27 February 2007

PRAY BETTER


Tuesday in the 1st Week of Lent
Mt 6:7-15

Lent is a time of intensive prayer. However, this does not mean that we increase our prayer. Lent is not about praying more. As it is with fasting and almsgiving – the other two integral elements of Lenten observance – Lent is about praying better. By praying Himself, Jesus teaches us today how to pray better.

Have the right attitude before God. That is the attitude of childlike trust and confidence in Him. “Our Father…” this is how the Lord’s Prayer begins. Prayer is talking and listening to God with the heart of a child. We tell Him anything and are open for anything from Him because we are certain that He cares for us and He always wants what is best for us. Praying better starts in the heart – a childlike heart.

Have the right concerns. Those are the concerns of God. Notice that half of the “Lord’s Prayer” pertains to God’s concerns: “Holy be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” It is actually praying not only to God but for God too. God’s concerns are always the best. When they come true, things will never go wrong for us. Praying better is learned from correct concerns – God’s concerns.

Have the right purpose. That is a humble, magnanimous, and holy purpose. The second half of the “Lord’s Prayer” reveals this kind of purpose. Humility helps us to ask for our daily bread and forgiveness for all our sins. Magnanimity teaches us to forgive those who sin against us. And holiness motivates us to beg that we be far from temptation and delivered from evil. Praying better is motivated by the right purpose – humble, magnanimous, and holy purpose.

It is a common misunderstanding that the Lenten call to intensive prayer means praying more. Let us correct this misunderstanding. Just as the pagans do not get a hearing by sheer multiplication of words, as Jesus says today, so are our pleas before the throne of God heard better by praying more.

Remember: Pray better, not pray more. And if you want to pray more, make sure you pray better first.

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