Prepare to Listen. Be still and silent then pray: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 6:5-13
5‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9‘Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
As a child, I was frequently told to pray. But no one taught me how to pray, so I assumed prayer was nothing more than talking to God and the more words I used the better. I struggled to pray long prayers and thought people who effortlessly prayed long, wordy prayers were more spiritual than I. Obviously, I’d never paid much attention to Jesus’ warning in this passage about not being like those who heap up empty phrases thinking they’d be heard for their many words. It was a relief when I finally learned Jesus’ teaching about words and prayer. Many words aren’t necessary. The prayer Jesus taught his disciples, the prayer Christ’s followers have been praying ever since, has only 58 words (in this English version) and it takes about 30 seconds to read them all.
Prayer is more than saying words. It requires an attitude of self-effacing humility (not caring whether people know you pray) and deep trust (believing that God knows what we need). We pray, not to inform God about what God already knows. We pray to live into our trust in God’s loving mercy. In other words, we pray to God for our sakes.
How do you pray? Focus on one phrase that caught your attention in this passage today.
Respond to Jesus
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. Amen.
Go and live obediently. Practice prayer that lives into a trust in God’s goodness and knowledge.
Because I believe that Scripture is food for our soul (our entire being) I seek to read it and encourage others to read it in ways that nourish and transform our beings. I invite you to read the Bible with me during Lent and into Easter. I am a Bible teacher, spiritual companion and retreat director. I know the Bile and how to read it for spiritual formation.