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The Lord’s prayer

Gospel Reading: Lk 11:1-13
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.”

And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed.

I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

The Gospel presents Jesus as praying. It is in the context of his praying that the disciples ask him to teach them how to pray. And the prayer that he gives is the Lord’s Prayer, although Luke’s version here is not used in the liturgy (we use Matthew’s longer version). To convince his disciples to pray always, Jesus tells of a man who goes to his friend at midnight, asking for three loaves of bread for an unexpected visitor.

The friend at first refuses to be inconvenienced; he eventually gives the loaves not because of their friendship but because of his friend’s persistence. Jesus then urges his disciples to pray always, using three imperatives: Ask, seek, and knock… And he assures God’s favorable response. God will not ignore every bit of our prayer, as long as we are persistent.

Prayer is not an exercise of futility, but living our Christian identity. When we pray, we are giving witness to the world that we are Christ’s disciples; we are connected with our teacher and master and God. We are not swallowed up by the demands of the world. We are liberated from its false teachings that to be happy, we must earn more money, power, and prestige.

The world regards prayer as a waste of time and energy. Constant prayer makes worldly demands meaningless and Christian discipleship meaningful. It is a constant refusal to bow down to the modern idols. It is a constant affirmation of our Christian identity as God’s own.

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SOURCE: “366 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publishing@stpauls.ph; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.