Today is Thursday, the 17 June, in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time.
The choir of Holy Sepulchre London sing, Otche Nash, a setting of the Lord’ s Prayer.
Today’s reading is from the Gospel of Matthew.
‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ‘Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
'Do not heap up empty phrases'--are there ever times when religious language just seems empty to you?
Where do you think God is in that sort of experience?
Now listen again to the familiar prayer (even if the words are slightly altered). Notice how it starts with God: with praise, with longing for the Kingdom, and with an acceptance of what God desires. Only secondly does it focus on our needs for food, for forgiveness and for protection.
Luke's Gospel tells us that the Our Father is Jesus's answer to the disciples' request: 'Lord, teach us to pray'. Perhaps you might spend a few minutes now making that same request--'teach me to pray'-- and try to listen in case the Lord is inviting you to make a shift.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.