“The Lenten season is especially a season of prayer”
The Rt. Rev. Charles T. Quintard
Bishop Quintard’s words are particularly poignant as the Lord’s Prayer appears in today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew. In fact, all three of our readings today encourage us to pray–the prophet Isaiah exhorts us to “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;” and the Psalmist reminds us that “his ears are open to their cry.”
Clearly God wants to hear from us, but how do we do it? Prayer is hard. Talking to the Creator of the Universe seems like a challenge. Is there some secret formula? Can we pray for what we want, or just what we need? Should we pray only for ourselves, or for others? Do we have to stand, or kneel, or bow our heads? Thankfully, Scripture gives us some guidance, and it seems quite simple. The first step, as Former ABC Rowan Williams said, is to boldly assert that God is our Father.
In seventy-two words, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, but he also gives us what N.T. Wright calls “the means by which the church celebrates what has been accomplished already in Christ and strains forward for what lies ahead.” As Episcopalians, the Lord’s Prayer forms a central part of our liturgy as it appears in almost every service from Morning and Evening Prayer to the Holy Eucharist to Baptism. The Lord’s Prayer gives us the template for our individualized prayers and gives us something to fall back on when we don’t know exactly what to say.
Having this immediate familial access to God gives us comfort and hope in times of suffering. It can be the only solace when a family member is sick or dying. It can give us the strength to persevere in the most adverse of circumstances because we know God is with us.
As we continue to journey through Lent, let’s remember Archbishop Welby’s call to just pray.
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 55:6-11, Psalm 34:15-22, Matthew 6:7-15
This reflection also appears on the Pathways through Lent blog sponsored by St. John’s Episcopal Church – Lafayette Square.