In the First Reading we hear, “So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it” Isaiah 55:11. This verse is reassuring. It reminds me that God always has a plan and a purpose, and nothing is wasted. I think this is one reason why it’s necessary to know God’s word. Scripture is full of truth, beauty and goodness. When we know the Word, we know Truth.
The Gospel gives us the prayer Jesus taught. How often do we pray the Lord’s Prayer? It is part of liturgies, of other prayers, and it may be one of the first prayers we learned as children. Jesus taught it to his disciples to remind them that prayer, to be effective, is best when it is sincere. Long winded prayers which attract attention are not God is looking for from us. I think about this also when I am praying with a group and ask if anyone has prayer intentions. Some people give you so much information about the person and situation that I get more wrapped up in the story than the prayer needed. I tend to be more of a minimalist, a first name and short request, relying on the fact that Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
And what about the prayer itself? It really does cover all our needs. Notice though, before it gets to “me” we give honor and glory to God. We pray for the coming of his kingdom. Then we pray for ourselves, for our physical and spiritual well-being. Of course, Jesus would give us the perfect prayer. Now it is up to us to make good use of it. Sometimes when we pray the same prayer repeatedly, it becomes words that come out of our mouth without any thought of meaning or intention.
Today might be a good day to slow down and pray the Our Father slowly. Taking time with each phrase to pray for specific intentions. For example: Our Father (thank you for being the perfect Father, help me to love and care for others as you do), who art in heaven (I give you glory Lord) hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come (may all people come to know that you are God, who made them and wants their good), they will be done (Father, I want to do your will, guide me today to follow you). I think you get the idea. If this is not appealing to you, then simply slow down, carefully enunciate the words so that you hear them, and they lift your heart and mind to God. After all, isn’t that what prayer is?
Just as God’s word fulfills the purpose it is meant, our prayers, said in faith in trust, fulfill their purpose.
Deanna G. Bartalini, MEd, MPS, is a Catholic educator, writer, speaker, and retreat leader. She has served in ministry for over 40 years as a catechist, religious education director, youth minister, liturgical coordinator, stewardship director and Unbound prayer minister. For all of Deanna’s current work go to DeannaBartalini.com.
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