Genesis describes God like parents who seek to know what and how their children are doing. God sought to find out the truth of those in Sodom and Gomorrah. They had blurred the image of God by discounting the dignity of others. Whatever our images of God may be, Abraham enjoyed an intimate, parental one. His back-and-forth with God over those God sought to learn testified to his deeply felt knowledge of God’s faithful mercy.
Abraham’s knowledge of God’s mercy allowed him to persist in calling God to remember God’s mercy. Abraham was not coercing God to Abraham’s whim. We Christians, as Jesus taught us, do likewise: we bless God and praise God and call on God ever to remember us. When we pray our model prayer Jesus gave us, we call on the mercy and love of God we receive in the eucharist.
When we pray we do not coerce God. We seek deeper awareness of how our lives intersect with God’s desire for us. “God’s desire for us” describes the will of God in a way both personal and affectionate. God desires us always. That is why God created us and keeps creating us each moment. God’s desire for deeper personal bond with us is why God became human with us and for us in Jesus. For us Jesus recovered what Abraham enjoyed in his relationship with God.
Jesus’ prayer expresses his relationship with God, whom he called his Father. Jesus’ disciples sought it when they sought to pray like him. Our Lord’s Prayer allows us to enjoy Jesus’ relationship with his Father. Here are five ways: 1) Jesus always endorsed the holiness of God; he and all Jews knew by heart, the Lord is one, the Lord alone whom we love with our whole being and others because the Lord loves them1; 2) Jesus proclaimed the reign of God by his actions not only in words; 3) Jesus relied on God not things. Jesus used created things to help him proclaim God’s reign; 4) Jesus linked forgiveness of sins with his ministry to individuals and to the world; his blood was the new covenant for the forgiveness of sins2; and 5) Jesus encouraged his disciples to pray for courage and freedom from testing. He was tested as we3 are from his desert temptations through his agony in the garden.
Jesus’ tiny parable of the friend at midnight closed his teaching his disciples to pray. It vividly encourages us to persist in our praying. The sleepy friend responded to a crisis in the dead of night. God’s way of responding and giving always exceeds the ways humans give. God may respond and give mysteriously but never with spite nor any snake-for-a-fish or scorpion-for-an-egg trickery.
Recently Pope Francis considered Abraham and encouraged us to “forge ahead in prayer, courageous [and] insistent.” He would agree with Jesus’ tiny parable that we pray also with firm purpose. Those are “motivations,” he said, “which come right from the heart of God.”4
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
- Praise the Trinity for constantly creating and redeeming you.
- Ask Jesus’ disciples to encourage you to ask him their question, “Lord, teach [me] to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
- Chat with Jesus: let him know what makes praying difficult as well as what moves you to pray.
- Ask Jesus to deepen your courage and to strengthen your affection and your insistence with him, his Father and their Spirit.
- Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Our model prayer Jesus gave us contains all we believe; it reminds us our Creator treats us as good parents treat their children; and it reminds us that we are siblings of Messiah Jesus, the Only Begotten of God.5
- Deuteronomy 6.4; Leviticus 19.18. Jesus joined these in his teaching; so Christians do.
- Jesus’ words over the chalice remind us of that daily.
- Hebrews 4.15.
- Today’s first reading was the first reading on 01 July and Pope Francis spoke about it in his homily.
- So St. John Chrysostom summarized the Lord’s Prayer in his Homily on Matthew 19 at #6.