Just two weeks ago, I received an inspirational text message from a friend. It says, “God always says YES to all our prayers. The YES of God does not always the YES that we want it to be. But it will always be the YES God knows to be the BEST for us!”
Why is it that some of our prayers are left unanswered by God? Rephrasing it differently to be more precise, why is it that some prayers are answered by God but not in the way and time we want them to be?
There are some possible reasons for these. Some do not truly pray at all. Some do not know whom they pray to. Some do not know what to pray. Some do not know how to pray. And some do not do their part in prayer.
It has been said that the secret of the many failures in life is the failure in prayer. Either people do not know to pray or they do not truly pray at all. Today’s Gospel reminds us of the necessity of prayer and the permanent validity of the teaching of Jesus on prayer:
Going back to the Gospel reading, Jesus ‘was praying at a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples’ (Lk 11:1). In response to this request the Lord entrusts to his disciples and to his Church the fundamental Christian prayer originally called the Lord’s prayer and commonly called the “Our Father. There are two versions of the Lord’s prayer in the Gospel. St. Luke presents a brief text of five petitions (Cf. Lk 11:2-4) while St. Matthew gives a more developed version of seven petitions (Cf. Mt 6:9-13). Which of the two the Church has been using in her liturgy and worship? The liturgical tradition of the Church has retained St. Matthew/s text (see CCC 2759).
“In the Our Father, the object of the first three petitions is the glory of the Father: the sanctification of his name, the coming of the kingdom and the fulfillment of his will. The four others present our wants to him: they ask that our lives be nourished, healed of sin and made victorious in the struggle of good over evil” (CCC 2857)
What are the common features and significance between the two versions of the Lord’s Prayer?
First, it teaches us everything that we need to know about prayer. It teaches us the need to pray, whom to pray, what to pray, how to pray, what to do as our part in prayer.
Second, the Lord’s prayer is the truly unique: it is “of the Lord”. It is taught and given to us by the Lord Jesus himself who is the master and model of our prayer (see CCC 2765 and 2775).
Thirds, the Lord’s prayer or popularly known as the Our Father “is truly the summary of the whole Gospel” (Tertullian, De orat. 1: PL 1, 1155).
Fourth, it is “the most perfect prayers…In it we ask, not only for the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them” (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh. II-II, 83, 9).
If you want to pray well and live well accordingly, read, study and pray the Lord’s prayer. Pray with Jesus as your model Pray-er, pray with the Lord’s prayer as your model prayer.
Let us, therefore, pray with confidence to our Father the prayer taught to us by Christ himself. “Praying to our Father should develop in us the will to become like Him, and foster in us a humble and trusting heart” (CCC 2800). Pray to our Father to unite our will to that of his Son, so as to fulfill his plan of salvation in the life of the world.