The Lord’s Prayer is the revered, all-inclusive offering honored in all Christian denominations.  I rather think the disciples were somewhat awed by its overwhelming simplicity.  It’s almost as if they were inspired to break through the legalism of their Judaic formation in asking Jesus how to pray so imagine their surprise when they listened to their Teacher. “Is that all?  Is that all we have to do and ask for?  Bread?  Forgiveness? Praise?  Faith? “

“Praying simply?  Never heard of it.  You have to have regulations and a ritual format!”

Puzzled, they listen further.  One can actually ‘pester’ God! After all, a person would get up in the middle of the night to feed his traveling friend and if our friend is God—who loves us immeasurably—why wouldn’t He take care of our temporal as well as spiritual needs?  And why would He not provide the Holy Spirit to help us understand how our prayers are answered?

Over 70 years ago, in our Pittsburgh row house, my mother set her kitchen stove timer and at certain hours when it went off, she would drop to her knees in her tiny kitchen and pray a special novena prayer.  My dad had lost his job and World War II was raging on.  Sometime later my mother became ecstatic; we were moving to Cleveland, Ohio where dad had taken a new job. Years later I asked her what her intentions were in her prayer at that time and she said, for the end of World War II, and a job for your father.

My mother’s prayer had gone from desolation to consolation.  I think she lived this and other forms of Ignatian prayer or concepts of prayer without knowing it.  Praying simply, asking for bread, desiring to do God’s will surely elevates the soul from desolation to consolation.

 —Sr. Mary Ann Flannery, S.C. is Executive Director of Jesuit Retreat House, Cleveland OH.