How should we pray? There have been numerous books that have been written on prayer. Some of these books provide descriptions of the various types of prayer (e.g., praise, petition, contemplative prayer) while others provide a practical guide on how to pray. In today’s Gospel Jesus gives us his “how to guide” on prayer. He gives us the attitude we should have when we pray and the words to use. We should pray with trust in God. There is no need to “babble like the pagans,” to get God’s attention by badgering him: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
Jesus also gives us the words to use as He teaches us the “Our Father.” The central petition in this prayer is that God’s will be done: “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus’ core proclamation and teaching is that the Kingdom of God is at hand: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). The Kingdom of God is at hand whenever God’s will is done. So, God’s kingdom is present as Jesus heals the sick, embraces the leper, associates with tax collectors and sinners, and heals and forgives. Jesus does all of these things because this is the will of his Father in heaven.
The Our Father is the disciple’s prayer par excellence. When we pray this prayer, we are committing ourselves to follow the way of Jesus by embracing lepers, healing divisions and forgiving others. As we pray this prayer, we are asking God to guide us today to discern His will as we face the many issues of our time such as abortion, gun violence, racism, war, and a lack of integrity in some of our religious and political leaders. We pray to God for guidance so that we know not only what to do but how to do it. God calls us to be ministers of reconciliation and instruments of peace. May God’s Will be done!