Chichanbemo Patton SDB
“Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays” says Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard. Prayer is bound up with human history, for it is the relationship of humankind with God in the events of life. Prayer, for every religion is the most important element. Religion would be incomplete without prayer.
All of us pray daily in our own ways but time and again we face lot of difficulties and doubts in our prayer life. When our prayers are not answered; when we come across tragic circumstances; when something bad happens to our loved ones; when the sailing is not smooth; then, we tend to question God, “Why God? Why?”
During such moments we should remember that our prayers are never meant to bend the will of God, nor are they an attempt to compromise God’s ways with our personal wants and desires. Rather, our prayers must be a submission to God’s will. Surely, our prayers will always be answered though it may not be in the way we want to be or within the time frame we make. For this reason, for us Christians, Jesus Christ teaches us the art of prayer.
When the disciples asked Jesus for prayers, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke11:1), Jesus taught them the prayer, Our Father. It is also known as the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). The disciples of Jesus were Jews and prayers were part and parcel of their lives and they surely knew number of prayers. Nevertheless, the life-witness of the Praying Jesus prompted them to request Jesus to teach them how to pray.
The “Our Father”, is very familiar to many irrespective of religion and is recited daily in many tongues in every part of the world. This beautiful prayer is not just a prayer. It is an attitude; a loving relationship with the Father. Every phrase of it is filled with meaning and beauty but I want you to reflect on the phrase, “Thy will be done.” (Matthew 6”10)
When we pray the normal thing that we do is to ask God for this and for that; to do this and to do that for us and so on. However, Jesus tells us that our Father knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8). Yes, God surely knows our needs and He really gives us the best we need though it may not be the best we want. We are his children and we, like children do not know what we really want and much less, what is goodfor us. Then, we may ask, “What is the use of Prayers?” Let us keep in mind that God wants our prayers because He wants to hear us. Prayer is a communication with Him, in praying we acknowledge our insufficiencies, our weaknesses, and our vulnerabilities. Prayer expresses our dependence on God for everything. The day we stop praying will be the day we fail to see the hand of the loving God in our lives.
Hence, the primary object of our prayer must be God’s will. Jesus himself points out this fact: in his agony at the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to his Father to remove the cup of suffering from Him, but Jesus ended praying, “But not my will, Thy will be done.” (Mark 14:32-42) Jesus’ prayer was a submission to the will of the Father and Jesus teaches us this art of prayer in the, Our Father.
In life we find very difficult to accept realities and misfortunes that come our ways but I think God, our Father knows what is good for each of us. He knows our strengths and our weaknesses and would never allow us to struggle beyond our limits. All we need to remember at every moment of our life is to do God’s will; to say, “Thy will be done.”
An anonymous soldier wrote, “I asked God for strength that I might achieve; I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey. I asked for help that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for many things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things I got, nothing that I had asked for, but everything I had hoped for.”
We pray daily the Lord’s Prayer. To say it may be easy, to pray may be a bit difficult, but to live the Our Father as Jesus did may be the toughest mission given to us. The Almighty Father tells us, “Children, when you pray my Son’s prayer, pray with love as He did. All I ask you to do is to Love me and in doing my will you’ll show your love for me.” Let usalways trust in the providence of God. As a child I used to enjoy the song, “Ngaro jina opo longtsuo ji esia” (Just like a child who trusts his Father dear), being sung in the church. Yes, our relationship with God must be the attitude of a father and his child. In this way, we shall, as children of God find happiness in doing the will of our Father.
Sometimes, our labours, our prayers, our sweat and toil may not give us what we want. Then, we must bear in mind, “Thy will be done is what really matters.”
Chichanbemo Patton SDB