Meditation for Tuesday of the 1st Week of Lent

First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19
Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15
For three days in July 1863, Union and Confederate forces fought fierce battles at and near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Union turned back one of the last major thrusts of the Confederate troops toward the North. Many consider it the turning point in the war; after Gettysburg, the South had to fight a defensive war that was doomed to fail.
On November 20 of that same year, a battlefield cemetery was dedicated at Gettysburg. Edward Everett, a well-regarded and prominent speaker, was the main feature of the event. President Lincoln followed Everett’s two hour speech with what came to be known as the Gettysburg Address. In about two minutes, Lincoln gave his speech; though the newspapers of the time had much to say about Everett’s speech and relegated Lincoln to the back pages, Everett himself recognized the beauty of the simple elegance of Lincoln’s words, and told the President as much in a note he wrote to him the next day.
In just 268 words, President Lincoln captured not only the point of that moment, but also the reason for the existence of this nation, why it was engaged in a battle for its life, and the promise of what its future might hold.  Although he said (and, most likely, honestly believed) that, "The world will little note nor long remember what we say here," the Gettysburg Address has been called the greatest American speech ever delivered.
God’s words, both in Scripture and in His actions throughout nature and human history, have impact and power, as well as economy – every word does its job, and not one unnecessary word comes from the mouth of God.  This is most evident in His Son, the Word of God – especially so when he teaches us to pray in that same concise way.  In just 56 words (in English), Jesus teaches us
  • how to glorify God
  • to recognize His dominion
  • to remember that His will is more perfect than our own
  • what to ask for and how to ask for it
  • how to obtain forgiveness
  • to ask for the power to be like Him in mercy
  • and to acknowledge our dependence on Him, both for bodily needs and spiritual guidance and protection.

Are our prayers overly fluffy, as if we are trying to flatter God so that He’ll change His perfect will to match ours?  Or are our prayers as simple as a child’s requests to a loving Father who already knows what they need? 

Are we trying to convince God that we really need something He hasn’t given us?  Or are we letting prayer be a 2-way street, in which we let God convince us whether we are really asking for the right things?

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