Christoph Weigel: Our Father Who Art in Heaven
Biblia ectypa : Bildnussen auss Heiliger Schrifft Alt und Neuen Testaments, 1695
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
Gospel: Mt 6:7-15
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him (NRSV, Mt 6:7-8).”
Let us pray.
Father, we realize that you are unchanging and that everything begins in you; yet, when we pray, so often we begin by trying to get your attention and then continue by letting you know our needs and how important it is that they be fulfilled. Finally we ask you to come to our assistance, to do what you have not been doing up until that moment in order that our prayers may be answered. The matters that we pray about are often not trivial. We pray for a friend who is seriously ill even unto death. We pray for the poor and those oppressed. We pray for peace and justice throughout the world. When many of our prayers seem to go unanswered we argue that you, Lord, must have a better plan for us. Acquaintances will often argue that we did not pray seriously enough or believe intensely enough. If only we had sufficient faith, they say, then our prayers would be answered.
How foolish of us, Lord. We begin our prayers by asking you to come, to listen, as if you are not always present to us, you who have sent your Word to dwell with us, your Word who constantly challenges us to accept your Spirit and to grow in your life.
Then we explain our needs, even in great detail, as if you, Lord, did not know everything that there is to know. You are aware of our needs ever much more fully than we are ourselves.
We beg you to come to our assistance when it is you who in every moment offers us through the Word your own divine life in the Holy Spirit.
How unthinking of us, Lord, to ask you who are unchanging to change and help us (as if you were not always helping us and everyone with the fullness of your divine power at every moment).
Father when are we going to learn that pray does not change you? Prayer rather should sensitize us to the life and power that you always offer us so that we might accept it and make it our own, even share it with others in need. How grateful we should be that you respect our integrity and our freedom, that you do not belittle us by acting for us, that you never take over in our lives but in every instant empower us to act if only we would accept the gift of your life. Father, prayer does not change you. Prayer should change us.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.