Josemaría Escrivá Obras

Let us take another look at the Master. You too may find yourself now hearing his gentle reproach to Thomas: 'Let me have your finger; see, here are my hands. Let me have your hand; put it into my side. Cease your doubting, and believe;' and, with the Apostle, a sincere cry of contrition will rise from your soul: 'My Lord, and my God!' I acknowledge you once and for all as the Master. From now on, with your help, I shall always treasure your teachings and I shall strive to follow them loyally.

If we go back a few pages in the Gospel we can relive the scene in which Jesus retires to pray and his disciples are nearby, probably watching him. When Jesus has finished, one of them boldly asks him: 'Lord, teach us how to pray, as John did for his disciples. And he told them, When you pray, you are to say, Father, hallowed be thy name.'

Note the surprising thing about this reply. The disciples share their daily lives with Jesus and there, in the course of their ordinary conversations, Our Lord tells them how they should pray. He reveals to them the great secret of God's mercy: that we are children of God and we can talk things over with him and spend time with him, just as trustingly as a son does with his father.

When I see how some people set about the life of piety, which is the way a Christian should approach his Lord, and I find them presenting such an unattractive picture, all theory and formulas, plagued with soulless chanting, better suited to anonymity than to a personal, one to One, conversation with God Our Father (genuine vocal prayer is never anonymous), then I am reminded of Our Lord's words: 'When you are at prayer, do not use many phrases, like the heathens, who think to make themselves heard by their eloquence. You are not to be like them; your heavenly Father knows well what your needs are before you ask him.' A Father of the Church comments on this passage as follows: 'I understand from this that Christ is telling us to avoid long prayers, not long as regards time but as regards the endless multiplicity of words... For Our Lord himself set us the example of the widow who, by dint of supplication, conquered the resistance of the unjust judge; and the other example of the inconsiderate individual who arrives late at night and who, through insistence more than friendship, gets his friend out of bed (cf Luke 11:5-8; 18:1-8). With these two examples, he is telling us to ask constantly, not by composing endless prayers, but rather telling him of our needs with simplicity.'

In any case, if on beginning your meditation you don't succeed in concentrating your attention so as to be able to talk with God; if you feel dry and your mind seems incapable of expressing a single idea, or your affections remain dull, my advice is that you try to do what I have always tried to do on such occasions: put yourselves in the presence of your Father and tell him this much at least: 'Lord, I don't know how to pray. I can't think of anything to tell you.' You can be sure that at that very moment you have already begun to pray.

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