One of the earliest prayers I learned as a young boy is the Our Father. It speaks about a child’s reverence for the Father he hasn’t seen but is one he is taught to be the Creator, living in Heaven, is superior and above everybody else. The boy imagined his Father to be above in the clouds, watching and taking care of everything He has created. Just the thought of the Father above make the boy feel in awe.
The Our Father as Jesus spoke in the Gospel is a complete prayer. It starts with the adoration of the Father, supplication or petition, and contrition. It contains simple requests: that we may have enough to eat today, that our sins may be forgiven, a willingness to forgive others also, and the ability to withstand temptation or test, and to deliver us from evil.
These are essentially the priorities we ask God when we pray. Mentioning the primal need of the body is an indication that Jesus recognizes and cares about our physical needs. As a spiritual being, Jesus emphasizes that we need to ask forgiveness of our sins, and as well as forgiving others who sinned against us. Jesus knows the difficulties of navigating in this life’s spiritual pilgrimage when there are oppressions and distractions. Finally, He invites us to seek God’s help in surmounting the difficulties in life which might separate us from him.
The Gospel also tells us that we have to be persistent in prayer. However, it is important to recognize that persistence is not the only criterion that determines whether our prayers are to be answered and fulfilled or not. It has to bring something good to us and others, and should make us better persons in the end. Thus, while there are things we want to be given to us, we should think about God’s will in our lives too. He sees beyond the present and into the future.
This is always the story of life. So many times, we pray for what we want in the present, such that we fail to see the big picture and the implications. It’s understandable because we live in a world of instant gratification, and so we want our prayers to be answered immediately. This is true ever since; people are always like that. Add to the fact that young people now are surely more impatient than before.
When our prayers are unanswered, we sometimes think it’s better to keep quiet and stop asking why. But we shouldn’t. Else we stop asking and we stop having faith. We should keep the conversation with God going. He loves us so much, such that He always surprises us with gifts and blessings beyond our imagination. We just have to keep following, trusting and believing in Him. Even if He doesn’t answer now, suffice it to say that He wants the best for us. In some time in the future, we will know why. We just have to keep asking.
“Lord when I cried out, you answered; you strengthened my spirit.” ~Ps. 138: 3.