Last week in the gospel we heard the famous story of Martha and Mary. "Martha, Martha you are anxious and worried about many things, only one thing is needed." Jesus then pointed to Mary, who was seated at his feet. Only one thing is needed to overcome anxieties and worries: a relationship with Jesus, a life of prayer.
This week our Lord continues the instruction. We need a life of prayer, so Jesus teaches us about prayer. It all begins with the beautiful little prayer of one of the disciples: Lord teach us how to pray. This prayer should be on all of our lips. Lord teach us how to pray. We all need to work on our prayer, no one would say "my prayer life is actually too good…"
Today's readings outline 4 key principles of prayer: Trinitarian, Consistent, Personal, Intercessional.
First, prayer should be Trinitarian. Jesus tells us to pray to the Father and if we do the result will be the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, the son of God, is our model, our teacher in the ways of prayer. He prays to the Father, and teaches us to pray to the Father. We would not be able to pray to the Father without Jesus showing us the way. The Spirit is given to those who pray. So our whole life of prayer should be molded by the Son, directed to the Father and infused with the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Next we hear the story of the man who comes late at night seeking some bread. Jesus gives us this as an example of prayer. At first it seems like Jesus is telling us to badger God until he gives us what we need. But, I would rather like to think of this parable as Jesus telling us that our prayer must be consistent. In other words, we don't just pray one day and say that we have prayed and that should be the end of it. Rather, prayer is a daily occurrence, our prayer must be consistent.
Third, our prayer should be personal. Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened. The things you ask for will be different from the things I need. You will seek different things. Prayer should be personal. Don't be afraid to pour out your heart to God. This is the stuff of prayers, what makes it up: the essence of our lives shared with God.
Finally, we should see ourselves as intercessors: praying on behalf of others. Just as did Abraham, we should seek the good of others in our conversations with God. How many people do you know that need prayers? Are there sick people in your family, are there those struggling financially, are there those who are far from Jesus? These people need our prayers.
If you notice these four aspects of prayer are all found in the Mass. That is one reason that the Mass is the perfect prayer. It is Trinitarian: we offer the Son to the Father in the power of the spirit. Consistent: we pray every week, and every day! The mass is being offered at every hour around the world. Personal: we receive the Lord into our very hearts, souls, and bodies, how more personal can it get? Intercession: we offer our prayers for the Church, the world and those who are in need. The Mass is the great school of prayer. As we celebrate this Mass let us turn to the Lord as that disciple did so many years ago and say: Lord teach us how to pray.