Proper 12, Year C Homily - July 28, 2013
In the Gospel reading we have just heard the classic words spoken by Christ which we call the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ or the ‘Our Father.’ Our text from St. Luke read:
“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 forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” (Luke 11:2-4, NRSV)
“Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven.”
This quote could truly be referred to as a brief commentary not only the Lord’s Prayer but on prayer in general. We often tend to think of prayer as a magical act to force the hand of God to do our will or meet our desires but truly prayer is a calling to ourselves to grow, become more like God, and walk in God’s way as we haven’t before. In the 21st century we often question the need for prayer, we are now a people of science, we understand how natural elements work. We know God does not send tornadoes but rather they are a result of weather changes. We know diseases are not divine wrath poured out on mankind but rather our own doing from lack of knowledge or the creation of situations which lead to outbreak. While many of us do not doubt the possibility of the miraculous and the unexplainable we also have known far too many people who have died even while we prayed for their healing. We could easily stand with all this reasoning and ask why pray at all? As St. Ephraim tells us: we pray to change, we pray to become, we pray to transcend the situations that surround us and to tap into the presence of Holy Love, to tap into God.
In those moments of prayer, whatever form they take, we are raised to heaven. Not a heaven above the clouds, but rather the kingdom of heaven which is within us and all around us!
Image: Lord's Prayer, Albani Psalter, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55499 [retrieved July 27, 2013]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lord%27s_prayer_in_Coptic.png.