Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious (Memorial)
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. (Matthew 6:9)
The Lord’s Prayer is short and sweet. It’s just seventy-six words long, which means you can recite it comfortably in less than twenty seconds. Have you ever wondered why this prayer—the one prayer that Jesus himself taught us—is so brief?
Well, for one thing, the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t have to be long. Long prayers don’t capture God’s attention better than short prayers. You don’t have to worry about saying just the right thing in order to win an audience with your heavenly Father (Matthew 6:7). He’s attentive to you because he loves you. Even at this moment, his eyes are on you, and his ears are open.
Second, the Lord’s Prayer is short enough that it’s easy to memorize. This may seem rather pragmatic, but remember: for centuries, written documents were expensive and hard to come by. Many people couldn’t read. So Jesus made it so that anyone could learn this prayer by heart and carry it with them wherever they go.
Third, the Lord’s Prayer creates space for listening. Its short length gives us plenty of time to tell the Lord, “I want to hear what you have to say too.” Think back to a meaningful conversation you’ve had with a loved one. You probably weren’t doing all the talking. Instead, the other person opened up to you as well. While you were listening, you discovered something new about them. Or their words touched you and moved your heart somehow. The best prayer times are like that. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we’re praying the essentials—the things we need to say. Then we can quickly shift our attention to listening to God and giving him an opportunity to open himself up to us.
Try devoting your prayer time today to the Lord’s Prayer. Recite it slowly. Pause for a moment to dwell on each phrase. Know that God hears every word. What’s more, he sees your heart. He is aware of all of your needs today—you don’t even have to mention them. Instead, you can thank him for giving you such a beautiful, simple prayer. Then invite him to respond. Who knows? This could lead into a very meaningful conversation.
“Father, thank you for always listening. Help me open my eyes and ears to you.”
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