Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”
Watching him pray, his disciples could see that Our Blessed Lord was intimately in touch with heaven. In a way it was “written all over his face”, but this was more noticeable when the Lord would go to "certain places" to be alone in prayer.
For example, this is what you do when you come in early and sit in the church, when you look around and gaze at the sacred images wondering how they might reflect a little glimpse of heaven in our direction. Prayer is when we light a candle, and our focus becomes, not inward, but reaching out through the darkness of this world to the beyond. Prayer is following the trail of incense as it drifts upward to heaven. It is the words of scripture, which are presented in the selected passages from the bible, or have been weaved together into conversations with God, which we have come to know by heart, or try to make our own. Prayer is the raising of the heart and soul, reaching out to heaven.
The first place for prayer is actually not here in the church building. It’s at home in your own house. We come to the church to give thanks to God for all the blessings we have received during this past week, and we offer our prayers and sacrifices to God for our own good and the good of all his holy Church as we begin another week.
But, every day, our homes are sacred places. It is there we are to find a place to pray every day. But increasingly our homes can become noisy places, cluttered places, and busy places. This is why it is always good that there be a sacred space in your home, a place where you can withdraw to, to bring the family around, to pray especially the familiar sacred words that have been passed down to us from generation to generation, and where our minds can focus on the sights and sounds of heaven. And even to ask, “Lord, teach us to pray”.
Christ does teach us how to pray. In fact, he gives us a formula, a template, and words to say. “Our Father, who art in heaven…” - Listen to them as if the Lord himself were teaching you these words, asking you to ponder on the deep meaning that each verse has for all of us and every time we bring these divine words to our mind and lips, to allow them to sink deeper and deeper into our soul.
As we ask Christ to teach us to pray, consider who taught him! As he grew up, Mary would have helped him to say his first words, how to read the scriptures, how to pray according to the tradition of the Chosen People. In her teenage years her own words to the angel, “Be it done unto me, according to thy will”, seem to echo through the verse of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. And when Christ was alone in the garden of Gethsemane, hours, I’m sure he thought of his mother and her words to the angel message thirty years ago he himself prayed to his Father, “Not my will, but Thine be done.”
Prayer is not a nicety of Christian life; it is allowing Christ to pray through us, so that his words become our own. In this Holy Mass, let our prayer be united with Calvary in the greatest prayer that ever reached heaven.