Lord, teach us to pray – again

Lord, teach us to pray, again

Jesus’ disciples had heard that John the Baptist had taught his followers a prayer, or how to pray. They didn’t want to feel left out, so they too asked Jesus to teach them to pray.

That is when Jesus taught them The Our Father, or Lord’s Prayer.

The Wednesday, June 2, Mass readings included two beautiful prayers; one from Tobit and the second from his future daughter-in-law, Sarah. The reading can be found in Tobit chapter 3, verses1-11a, and 16-17.

Both were grief-stricken and wanted to die. Tobit asked that God would let him die; whereas, Sarah originally wanted to hang herself but changed her mind when she realized how much sorrow this would cause her father. She too then prayed for death.

God heard both of their prayers, but instead of giving them what they requested: death, he gave them joy beyond telling! You’ll have to read further to chapters 6 and 11 to see the result of their prayers.

That’s not any different than when we pray. We often have to wait a considerable amount of time to get our answer, or better yet, God’s answer. But, as you’ll see with Tobit and Sarah, it’s worth the wait!

When you read the prayers of Tobit and Sarah, you will notice that their prayers’ format is very similar to the prayer Jesus taught His disciples (Matthew 6:9-15). It’s as though the disciples didn’t need to be taught how to pray; their Jewish faith had already taught them that. But their jealous request did give us the beloved Our Father prayer. Remember, God always makes good come out of our weaknesses or sins.

Notice that Tobit and Sarah began their prayers first by praising the greatness of God. Tobit prays, “You are righteous, O Lord, and all your deeds are just; All your ways are mercy and truth; you are the judge of the world” (Tobit 3:2). Sarah cries out, “Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God, and blessed is your holy and honorable name”  (Tobit 3:11).

Jesus begins His prayer, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.” Like the Jews in the Old Testament, Jesus teaches that our prayers should begin first with praise and thanksgiving before we begin to ask for blessings.

Remember, Jesus did not come to throw out the Jewish faith, but to fulfill it. He did not teach us a “new” way to pray, He came to fulfill so many of the Old Testament prayers. He taught His disciples a new prayer to be prayed the same way the Jews had always said prayers: first praising and honoring God.

Perhaps, we should remember this whenever we go to God with a request. Maybe we’ll be heard just like Tobit and his daughter-in-law Sarah were. Pray like them and be ready to receive joy beyond telling!