1st Week in Lent, Tuesday – 23rd February 2021 – Mt 6,7-15
Prayer of Scriptural Synthesis
Jesus tells his followers that prayer is more than just a multiplication of words. The fact that a request is repeated does not make it a “vain repetition” for both Jesus and Paul (Mt 26,36-46; 2 Cor 12,7-8). A request becomes a “vain repetition” if it is only a babbling of words without a sincere heart’s desire to seek and to do God’s will. The mere reciting of memorized prayers can be vain repetition. Jesus then shares with his disciples the prayer which is known familiarly as the “Lord’s Prayer” or “Model Prayer” or by its First words, the “Our Father”. But it would be more accurate to title it as the “Disciples’ Prayer”. Jesus did not give this prayer to us to be memorized and recited a given number of times. In fact, Jesus did not say, “Pray in these words.” He said, “Pray after this manner”; that is, “Use this prayer as a pattern, not as a substitute.”
The Prayer that Jesus taught to his disciples has a synthesis of Scripture. Each phrase touches upon truths found in other parts of Scripture. Only Jesus could have spontaneously provided such a beautiful fusion of God’s Word for us. When we say “Our Father in heaven,” we echo Isaiah 66,1 and Acts 7,49: “Heaven is your throne and the earth is your footstool.” “Hallowed be your name” is reflected in “From the rising of the sun to its setting, may your name be praised and be great among the nations! Let your glory be over all the earth” (Ps 113,3-4). “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” is similar to, “For the glory of your name, deliver us and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake” (Ps 79,9). In this manner, the Lord’s Prayer is awesome in its depth and scope. It offers a perfect framework for our daily prayer.