“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Wait. What did I just pray?
God, “forgive us…as we forgive.” Jesus told us to pray this way, and so we do. But, do I really want that?
I’m praying for God to imitate me, to forgive me in the same way, or to the same extent, that I forgive others.
Yet, just from the recent past, I can make a long list of all the people I’ve judged, begrudged, or dismissed in my mind, not to mention the deeper wounds I have often resisted forgiving (and not to mention the many ways I fail to forgive and accept myself)! Is that what I want God to imitate?
Today, as we follow Jesus’ invitation to pray, may we take seriously the challenge of that invitation to re-engage our efforts to forgive others (and ourselves!), so our lives may be worthy of imitation.
—Thomas Bambrick, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province studying at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, CA.
Jesus, we trust in your mercy and forgiveness.
Teach us how to pray;
that is, help us to engage the worthwhile struggle of forgiveness
in our thoughts, words, and actions,
so we may imitate you
who desired to be like us.
—Thomas Bambrick, SJPlease share the Good Word with your friends!