He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; for a friend of mine has arrived, and I have nothing to set before him.’ And he answers from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, at least because of his persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
“So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion?
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Frequently in the Gospels, when someone makes a request of Jesus or asks him a question, his response makes it clear that there was something disordered in the request. Not so here. When one of the disciples says to Jesus, “teach us to pray,” he is only too happy to oblige. Making it possible for us to enter into the intimate exchange between Father, Son, and Spirit is precisely what the Son took flesh to do. But notice that Jesus does not set out on his own to speak about prayer to the disciples. He waits for one of them to ask. Having seen him go off time after time to pray, a growing sense of wonder develops in the disciples: What is this world of prayer that he enters? Can we enter it too? This disposition of awe remains the essential touchstone of Christian prayer, which leaves the Lord free to show us and give us whatever most pleases him.
Lord Jesus, you taught us how to pray, but we know that you hear us even when we don’t feel we have the right words. Let us always remember that we will find you when we seek you, and that you will open any door on which we knock. Amen.
—The Jesuit Prayer teamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!