Liturgy Corner

compiled by Pat Raschio (sources Formed, At Home With The Word, Scott Hahn and Loyola Press, Sourcebook)

Luke’s Jesus is a person of prayer. His disciples, very much aware of this, ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. Jesus teaches them a simple version of the most famous Christian prayer, the Our Father, or the Lord's Prayer. Matthew's version shows signs of being shaped by public prayer. Luke's version is probably closer to the original form that Jesus taught. Stripped of much of the language we are used to, Luke's version seems simple and direct. We pray that God's name will be recognized as holy and that his rule over all will be established. This is followed by petitions for our needs for bread, for forgiveness, and for deliverance. Luke uses the more theological language of “sins” rather than “debts,” which is used in Matthew's version.

Having taught his disciples a simple, daily prayer, Jesus goes on to reassure them that God answers prayers. Through those words that most of us know by heart, we acknowledge our relationship as one of a beloved child coming to ask a loving parent for the things we need. Immediately after the “Our Father,” Jesus tells the parable of the man who asks his neighbor for bread in the middle of the night, a story that contains the famous line: “For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” At first, the two don’t seem like they go together, but Jesus is giving us another important truth: God is our Father, but God is also our friend. Prayer is not a matter of changing God’s mind to our way of thinking, but rather an attunement to God’s way of acting and thinking, as we strive to align ourselves with God’s will.

When we pray we turn to God in humility, begin from the place that knows you are not in control, that you are vulnerable and need God. Prayer is not always about asking God for something. God gave us his Son Jesus; would God withhold anything we seek? In the Gospel we are taught to be persistent in our prayers to God, not to get our own way but to ask God for justice and right relationship in all thing so we might live as God desires. Just as parents desire nothing but the best for their children, so too God desires nothing but the best for us and will provide what God deems best whenever we are bold enough to ask. Learning to pray the prayer of Jesus is learning the art of reception. We seem to have mastered the prayers of supplication and intercession; we need to learn how to receive what God so deeply and lovingly desires to bestow upon us. The movie Fiddler on the Roof the friend relationship Tevye has with God is a good example of prayer, talking to God about everything in our lives as we would a good friend.

When you are a “friend” with someone, you worry less about sharing your needs and weaknesses. In the Gospel reading, the friend who came in the middle of the night looking for food didn’t seem too concerned about being a burden. He was willing to wake up everyone in the house to make his desperate request. The man’s persistence is based on a confident friendship. He had such trust in their relationship that he wasn’t afraid or hindered in asking for what he needed.

How would you describe your relationship with God right now?