When it comes to prayer, we all feel a little inadequate. We often sense that our prayer is not all it could be. The sense that we are not praying well can often leave us discouraged and keep us from praying, at least from engaging in private, personal prayer.
Paul was aware of how we can struggle to pray. That is why in his letter to the Romans he says, ‘we do not know how to pray as we ought’. In that very same verse, however, he declares, ‘the Spirit helps us in our weakness… that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words’. Paul is saying that a wordless prayer of the Spirit is going on deep within us, even in our struggle to pray.
One of the roles of the Spirit in our lives is to help us to pray, to do our praying for us when we are too weak to pray. The Spirit’s help in the area of prayer is a continuation of Jesus’ help. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray. He tells them to keep their prayer simple. There is no reason for them to babble many words like pagans.
He then gives his disciples the gift of a prayer which has this quality of simplicity, what has become known as the Lord’s Prayer. It is a prayer which acknowledges God’s lordship, the priority of God’s kingdom and God’s will, and then acknowledges all that we need from God, physical and spiritual nourishment, forgiveness, and strength in times of trial.
When we struggle to pray, these simple but essential elements can help to give focus to our prayer. Amen
Fr John Peter