Jun 20 (Mt 6:1-6,16-18)

A father and his little son were on a journey.

They stopped mid-way to have lunch in a restaurant.

The father sat down on one of the stools at the counter and lifted the boy up to the seat beside him.

>> They ordered lunch.

When the waiter brought the food, the father said, “Son, we’ll just have a silent prayer.”

Dad got through praying first and waited for the boy to finish his prayer…

… but the boy just sat with his head bowed and eyes closed for an unusually long time!

When he finally looked up, his father asked him:

“What in the world were you praying about all that time?”

With the innocence and honesty of a child, he replied:

“How do I know?

It was a silent prayer!”

Very often, prayer, for us, is associated with “words”!

But True Prayer goes beyond words…

… it is about a relationship!

… it is about being in communion with God!

.. it is about getting in grateful touch with the One Who knows all and cares much!

Such are the sentiments teachings that are reflected in today’s Gospel which presents Jesus’ teaching on Prayer.

Jesus begins today’s Gospel with a strong warning:

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them…” (Mt 6:1)

Prayer is one of the most common practices of piety that most of us undertake.

>> However, very often, it is seen that our prayers consist more of blabbering empty and meaningless words, than actually praying!

Our practise of praying could perhaps take different forms and structures, depending on our own experiences of life and the outlook towards life.

>> Let’s have a quick list of the some of the ways in which our prayer has perhaps, taken shape…

(without any offence to any group/persons/professions!)

1. Prayer as a false politician

We bombard God with many empty promises, saying that if you fulfill my petitions, I will perform some deeds and good works for you.

Many times during elections campaigns, we hear many political speeches…

… laden with juicy words, stylish phrases, heart-rendering narrations and sensational emotions.

( It’s only time which can tell, to what extent, did these speeches actually have authenticity in them!)

>> Does my prayer tend to have such “political” overtones…?

2. Prayer as someone who argues and fights,as in a Court Case

Prayer is used mainly as means to achieve some intentions and we bring our good actions, as witnesses to win our case.

We tell God that we have performed so-and-so good things and try to argue and win the case against Him.

3. Prayer as a Frustrated Critic

>> We seek more to discuss things on why things don’t happen in life, and what are the demerits of wasting time in prayer, rather than seeing the goodness and blessings the Lord has showered in our lives.

Prayer time is spent more on questioning God and blaming Him…

… rather than praising Him for His Providential care

>> Is my prayer time merely “a time of complaint and criticism”?

4. Prayer as an Accountant

>> We seek to tally our demands and claims, and discuss the accounts of our many works with the Lord, to achieve our desired targets and goals.

Prayer becomes a time of statistical brainstorming with discussions on “give and take” policies and devising plans to tap “the budget of God’s blessings”!

>> Is my prayer a “mere statistical interaction” with God?

5. Prayer as a Programmer

>> We bring before the Lord, neat sheets of a programmed life – and expect the Lord to give the desired output, in response to my commands.

Like the computer which follows the software codes, with precision, we punch in our codes of “wants and demands” to the Lord and expect Him to follow it, like a foolproof software or program.

>> Is my prayer a “fixated coded-sheet” with only demands and wants?

6. Prayer as a Kidnapper

>> We hold God at ransom, and threaten that ‘if You do not fulfill my aspirations, I will leave You and will even abandon Your Church and its practices, and bring to an end all the good works that You have begun in me’!

We take the upper hand in prayer and expect God to follow all what we say – in the way we want, in the time that we demand and in the manner we expect!

>> Does my prayer become a means “to kidnap” the goodness of the Lord?

We need to examine our lives and see, whether our prayers remain stuck to these (or even other similar) categories.

Surely, each of these categories of prayers emerge out of one’s own life experiences

>> The Lord doesn’t judge us on the basis on it

But, the Lord Who seeks perfection in us… wishes, wants and demands…

… to have a higher and a more perfect understanding and practise of prayer.

Through today’s Gospel, Jesus points to the essence of Prayer..

>> Prayer is lifting up of one’s heart and mind to God, with an intention to seek and do His Holy Will.

Prayer is not about “my feelings”….

…. It is about “His Feelings”

Prayer is not achieving something or fulfilling a task…

…It is about spending time with the One Who loves us most.

As St. Bonaventure says, “When we pray, the voice of the heart must be heard more than proceedings from the mouth”

Today, let us examine, our prayer life…

>> Are my prayers mere lip-service

….or real expressions, emerging from the depth of our hearts?

St John Mary Vianney says,

” Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.”

May the Lord help us…

… to purify our prayer habits

… to give us a deeper taste to be in His Presence

… to realize that He is in complete charge of our lives

… and that our task is to always seek to conform to His Will!

God Bless! Live Jesus!

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