Scripture: 1st Reading: Is55,10-11; Resp. Psalm: Ps34,4-7,16-19; Gosp. Accl.: Mt4,4; Gospel: Mt6,7-15
The power of prayer and the power of the word! We use word in prayer. We use word in everyday conversation. Word has the power to heal, to mend broken fences in relationships, to galvanize people into action for good, to change hearts. Word has the power for good.
Unfortunately, history is replete with people who understood the power of the word in a negative, manipulative way. Hitler was one of them. Stalin was another. Those who understood the manipulative power of the word used it against the good of humanity.
The word of God today in the first reading is very clear: there is power in the word that proceeds from the mouth of God. The word that we listen to today or read in our time is old and new at the same time. It is old when we think of the generations of people who have had the privilege of listening to it for a positive change in their lives. It is new because the power to change and transform never diminishes. The power is always fresh.
Yahweh, speaking through Prophet Isaiah today says it categorically that the word He speaks will never return to Him without accomplishing that for which it was intended. The word will therefore never change. We are the ones to change. We are the ones to allow the power of the word of God to transform our lives for good.
We use words in prayer. We experience the power of the word when we pray well. We see results. That is why our Lord in today's gospel taught us the "right formula or pattern" for prayer. In the Lord's prayer, He gave us an example of how to pray so that we could be heard. Our Lord warned us that heaping up empty phrases does not help really.
In the pattern He gave us, He taught us to adore God in our prayer, acknowledge His sovereign power and will over our lives, recognize that there is no competing power with His own, whether in heaven above or on earth beneath. We are to ask Him for our daily sustenance, not for accumulation. Then He asks us to pray for forgiveness for our sins just as we also forgive those who sin against us.
In other words, our forgiveness is dependent on our readiness to forgive others who sin against us. Our Lord asks that we pray not to be led into temptation and to be delivered from the evil one, the enemy of our salvation. The efficacy of our prayer depends on the preparation we make for it. It depends on the level of faith we have in the power of God. It depends on the level of trust we have in the power of the word. It depends on our adherence to the will of God, expressed clearly in His word.
Let us today listen to the voice of God and enter into His peace. Let us allow His word have a place in our lives. Let us believe in the transforming power of the word. Let us "experiment" with total obedience to the word and see if a great change will not occur in our lives. Prayer is one of the pillars of Lent. Listening to God speaking to us is another. Let us be attentive and docile. We will never regret it.
Let us pray: "Look upon your family, Lord, that, through the chastening effects of bodily discipline, our minds may be radiant in your presence with the strength of our yearning for you." Amen.
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.