The right way to pray is the best way to pray says, Saint Bernard. Everything has the right way of doing it. We can apply the same in our communication with God.
“When you Pray” is a little phrase that Jesus uses to introduce His disciples to the standard and effective way to pray.
Prayer is a communication between us and God, between the Creator and the creature.
Prayer is a conversation between divinity and humanity. So, what Jesus teaches today is that there is a right way to pray to our heavenly Father.
We do not talk to Him as if He is wicked or that He is so heart hardened or that He does not listen at all. And we do not talk to Him anyhow as if He is our age mate.
God should not be treated anyhow we want. There is a right way to pray and communicate with God.
So today, Jesus lays down some certain standards that must be expressed in order to pray the right way.
The Gospel on the Right Way to Pray.
To begin the gospel of today, Luke emphasizes that Jesus is already in a particular place praying. And immediately He ends the prayer, the disciples approach Him and ask him to teach them how to pray.
We applaud the disciples for this. They know certainly that prayer is part of the life of Jesus. So, they seek the right way to pray. We can see in them, the eagerness to do what Jesus is doing.
It could be that the disciples have observed a certain way Jesus communicates with the Father.
For Jesus to go to a certain place means He has a quiet place He communicates with God.
Therefore, being in a particular place is a confirmation of what He says in Matthew 6:5 that when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, praying that people will see us, praying to attract admiration, or seeking public attention.
So, the right way to pray is not praying to seek honour and attention. We do not pray so that people will tag us, prayer warriors.
We do not act the prayer to win appraisal. Prayer is more of an intimate communication. Prayer is not shouting on top of our voices so that people will say “he prays a lot (O na ekpeka)”.
In Matthew 6:7 Jesus says “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
So, Prayer is more of a spiritual activity than a drama. Many of us today have reduced prayer to a drama where we act, jump up and down so that will people will clap for us. The right way to pray is when we sincerely pray from the heart.
Prayer is a way of life. We must not travel to Jericho for God to hear our prayer. It is something that comes in between our closeness with God.
Secondly, let us attentively observe that all the while Jesus is praying, nobody comes to interrupt Him.
The disciples want to ask Him some questions but not in between His conversation with the Father. They waited for Him until He concludes His prayer.
But sometimes when we pray, we allow people to come in between. Sometimes we answer phone calls and check our Whatsapp messages while praying. As if prayer is just mechanical.
Today, many people see prayer as something we just do to fulfil an obligation. Prayer is more than that.
Someone will be in the church where he/she attends to worship His Creator but busy replying to chats. We treat God with no respect as if prayer is a waste of time.
Sometimes we pray, but our mind is very far away. Our body is presently praying but our minds are somewhere else.
In Jesus, we see this heart to heart conversation with God. His life of prayer teaches that there is a right way to pray.
Like in the gospel we see Jesus having a heart to heart conversation with God without interruption from anyone. So, let nothing or nobody come in between our conversation with God.
The Way to pray the Right Way
To teach them how to pray, Jesus says “when you pray, say”. In Matthew’s account, Jesus says “pray like this” ( Matthew 6:9).
1. Jesus begins by calling God “Father”. This shows intimacy, love and acknowledgement of that relationship between the Son and the Father.
We can see this in most of the places He prays (Luke 22:42, John 17, Matthew 11:25, Luke 23:34etc). Here, we see this simple and confident approach to a Loving Father.
At prayer, quit seeing God as someone who will never hear you because of your past. He is always willing to hear and forgive us again. Therefore, the right way to pray is to pray to God as a Father.
Let us talk to God as Father who loves us. We do not talk to God as if He is deaf or unwilling to hear. We must not shout during prayer. The right way to pray is to pray with love.
2. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus, first of all, acknowledges the holy name of God and prays that His kingdom comes on earth.
To hallow means to venerate and honour the name of somebody. Therefore, at prayers, praises should be the open door before we ask for our needs.
So, Prayer first of all indicates a relationship before asking. We do not go to God only when we are in need. We go to God because we are in a relationship with Him.
3. Jesus also says “give us each day our daily bread”. Therefore, we have to make our requests to God. We have to ask God what we need. 1 John 5:14 says “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
In 1 Samuel 1. Hannah made her request to God and God answers her prayer. We have to make our request to Him often. Jesus promises us that when we ask we shall receive (Matthew 7:7). James says “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passion” (James 4:3 ).
4. At prayers, free your heart from every hurt, revenge and unforgiveness. “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespassed against us” is an acknowledgement that we are not bearing grudges against anyone. But sometimes we go to God with hearts full of envy, hatred, revenge, etc.
We ask and do not have because we ask wrongly (James 4:2-3). Paul asks Timothy to make sure that men raise holy hands in prayer without anger, envy or dissension ( 1 Timothy 2:8). So free your heart from them and forgive from the heart.
Therefore, the right way to pray is to pray without bitterness, guilt, envy, hatred etc. Prayer works efficiently when we do it with a free heart.
Let us always approach God the right way. Because prayer is not a burden. And let us not run away from God because our prayer is not answered the way we want.
This means that our relationship with God should not be conditioned by any circumstance.
May God bless you dearest and give us the grace to communicate always with Him. May He answer your prayers Amen.