By Bishop Robert Barron
Friends, today’s Gospel asks us to do three things: pray, fast, and give alms. Let’s focus today on prayer.
What is prayer, and how should we pray? Prayer is intimate communion and conversation with God. Judging from Jesus’ own life, prayer is something that we ought to do often, especially at key moments of our lives.
Well, how should we pray? What does it look like? You have to pray with faith, and according to Jesus’ model, you have to pray with forgiveness. The efficacy of prayer seems to depend on the reconciliation of differences.
You also have to pray with persistence. One reason that we don’t receive what we want through prayer is that we give up too easily. Augustine said that God sometimes delays in giving us what we want because he wants our hearts to expand.
Finally, we have to pray in Jesus’ name. In doing so we are relying on his influence with the Father, trusting that the Father will listen to him.
Reflect: How is the Lord’s Prayer a good model of what our prayer should contain in terms of praise, forgiveness, and petition?
A Different Approach to Fasting: Fasts have a tendency to be oriented toward things like giving up food or television. But there are many other creative ways we can welcome Jesus’ healing touch.
Here are suggestions you may want to consider:
Fast from anger and hatred. Give your family an extra dose of love each day.
Fast from judging others. Before making any judgments, recall how Jesus overlooks our faults.
Fast from discouragement. Hold on to Jesus’ promise that He has a perfect plan for your life.
Fast from complaining. When you find yourself about to complain, close your eyes and recall some of the little moments of joy Jesus has given you.
Fast from resentment or bitterness. Work on forgiving those who may have hurt you.
Fast from spending too much money. Try to reduce your spending by ten percent and give those savings to the poor.