Luke 11:1-4 - Where Does a Prayer Go?
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray just 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 in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test."
I have reflected on this in earlier occasions, but I think it is a point to come back to regularly. Prayer needs to happen in second person.
“Lord, teach us!”
“Jesus, help me.”
“God, I believe in you.”
If we do not take care, prayer can shift into the third person instead. This is at least what happens to me quite often.
“God wants this and that.”
“Jesus says such and such.”
“It is this way or that.”
But prayer becomes hollow if we do not acknowledge the actual presence of Our Lord while we pray. It becomes inpersonal and, thereby, quickly looses its sense and flavor. If we pray in such a hollow and unpersonal way, we necessarily wonder, where our prayer goes. A prayer in the second person, in change, has a very clear addressee.
The gospel offers a double reminder of that fact today. First, the disciples address Jesus actively and trustfully. They know that prayer is not something they can simply engineer skillfully. Prayer is a relationship with God and that is something we can not produce without His initiative.
Secondly, the prayer Jesus teaches them in response, the Our Father, consists entirely of phrases that address God personally. Each one of them weaves a connection between the one who prays and the Lord attending. The Our Father is a prayer that cannot be spoken into thin air; it is a tirade of praise offered in His presence and a series of petitions laid into His hands.
Jesus, thank You for reminding me of Your real presence in my life. With a renewed faith, I dare to say: “Our Father, who art in heaven…”