Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
The pagans babble on to God because they want to be heard. These pagans think that God does not know what they need, so they need to inform God and convince God to give them the “life” that they seek. People who call themselves “Christians” do something similar when they desire something and then “want God to come [around] to what they desire” (SpEx 154). They feel compelled to tell God what they “need” because, at some level, they fear that this “need” is not what God has in store for them, and they would like God to change his mind. This is not the Christian prayer that Jesus indicates.
Mary offers us a model of Christian prayer and Christian life when she receives what God offers her by saying “let it be done unto me according to thy Word” (Luke 1:38b). When he teaches us how to pray, Jesus offers us his own relationship with the Father: he offers us his prayer as our own prayer. This changes everything. As Christians, prayer is no longer primarily something that we “do,” it is something that we receive from above. Prayer is an entering into the conversation of love between the persons of the Trinity that began before the dawn of time and continues through all of the created cosmos.
What words can we offer God that are worthy of his divine majesty? And yet, the words that we offer God in the “Our Father” are worthy of God, because they are the Son’s own words to the Father. As such, this prayer, in its simplicity, always far surpasses what we can know that we are asking for. When we pray this prayer in the Spirit, it is the Spirit that prays within us which makes us capable of genuinely offering this prayer as our own. With and in Christ, we ask the Father for something that surpasses our comprehension. But since the petition is genuine, when the prayer is answered, we realize that what the Father offers is what we had asked for and what we had always desired, in Christ, without fully knowing it.