Scripture: Matthew 6: 7-15
Key verses: (7-8) 7 “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. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Reflection: In today’s passage, Jesus reminds us that we don’t have to impress God with our prayers like many of the pagan religions of his day required. We also don’t need to heap up hundreds of prayers to get the answers we want. While it’s wonderful to have the support and love of so many people who are willing to pray for us when we need it, this won’t change God’s love and compassion for us or God’s ability to hear our cries. One prayer is heard just as loudly as one hundred. God hears us. Praying is the important thing because it shows we trust God who knows our needs before we ask. Jesus reminds the disciples of this and gives them a framework for their daily prayer. This prayer, that we have come to know as the Lord’s Prayer, is meant to be an expression of our faith in a God who cares. As one commentator has said – prayer shapes and expresses (our) theology. It reflects how we think about ourselves and how we think about God. Jesus offers a model to help us pray. We have a structure to guide us. The Matthean form of the Lord’s Prayer reminds us that:
We are in a deeply personal relationship with God – Our Father (Daddy) in Heaven (better than any earthly father) is always with us. We hope for the fulfillment of the coming Kingdom of God when there will be no more pain, sorrow or injustice. We want God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven – where wrongs are made right. We pray for daily bread (survival); forgiveness; and deliverance from evil (which takes many forms). The oldest manuscripts of this prayer don’t have the words, “for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. Amen.” This addition to the prayer is a great reminder that all things belong to God, including us – God’s beloved children. Certainly, there will be times when our needs are so great that we might wonder whether God hears us, especially if the answers don’t come quickly. There may be times in our lives when we wonder why we pray. Does prayer make a difference? Today’s passage reminds us that we don’t have to wait to pray until we have an emergency and we don’t have to use a lot of words. Our God is ready to hear prayers of thanksgiving and praise, as well as supplication and intercession. When we pray we declare our dependence on God and show our confidence that God will sustain us.
Prayer: Holy God, we are grateful for the gift of prayer and your enduring presence in our lives. Help us to turn to you in the good times and the bad knowing that you hear us. Prevent us from trying to prove ourselves to you because you already love us more than we can know. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].