Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
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Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray: Our Father…”
Lord, teach us how to pray. I wish I could have been present when the Apostles asked the Lord to teach them how to pray. Were they utterly frustrated with their prayer life? Were they at the point of tears?
You would think that praying would have come easy for them. After all, God was right next to them, 24/7. But it obviously didn’t, and they did not hide the fact that it didn’t. Their heartfelt request makes them all the more human in my estimation.
So let’s set the record straight. Prayer does not come easy for anyone. This should not come as a surprise to us. After all, nothing good or holy or healthy comes easy in this world.
But if it makes you feel any better, then don’t forget that you can pray anywhere, at any time and in almost any way.
In fact, your prayers can be verbal as well as non-verbal, spontaneous or well thought out. The problem with prayer is not that we don’t have time. We have time. The problem is that we don’t know how to pray.
As you all know, one of my favorite types of prayer is Lectio Divina (divine reading); that is, the prayerful reading of the Word of God.
How do I do it? You may be surprised.
Reflection. Every evening, and before I lay down in bed, I read the next day’s Gospel passage. Then I go to bed. Sometimes I think about what I read. Most of the time I just sleep. But I always do this, without fail. Routine is fundamental for a good prayer life.
The next morning, I will say a short prayer (ATRIP) and invoke the Holy Spirit. Next, I will re-read the Gospel passage along with the other Scripture readings of the day: the first reading, the responsorial psalm and the Gospel passage. Once I do that, I will go for a walk.
I pick a place I know very well; a place I won’t get distracted.
While I am constantly reflecting (chewing) on the Word of God there will be a certain verse or word that sticks out from all the rest, something that I can immediately relate to. It might be something that has happened to me or something I read in the newspaper. But without fail, there will always be something that touched my heart or mind or soul or all the above.
Now begins the meditation, and now begins the thrill of seeing the Hand of God in my life or in my world.
Now begins the Aha moment, where I can’t help but say, “Why didn’t I see that before?” or “How could I have missed this?” or “Duh. That was obvious!” This is where I can relate to the crowd that surrounded Jesus and were “utterly amazed” or “confused” or “astonished” at what Jesus said and did.
Now I can understand their excitement, the excitement that comes from seeing beyond the facts and entering into meaning.
It is only fitting that I conclude my prayer with a request for forgiveness, for failing to trust in God’s Providence. I end my prayer with a promise, a proposal that surges from my heart or mind or soul, or all the above.
It all comes from above.
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