Today’s readings come from Isaiah 55:10-11; Ps. 34; and Matt. 6:7-15. The theme is one of us turning to God and of God responding. He promises, in the reading from Isaiah, to send His word. In my mind’s eye, “Word” is capitalized, because I think these verses are one of God’s promises to send His Son. The beauty of this reading is that the coming of God’s Word is as intentional and inevitable as the forces of nature the prophet describes. Jesus comes and brings with Him the will of the Father.
And this promise and fulfillment come together in the Gospel reading when Jesus teaches us that our prayer is to be made directly to our Father. He gives us such simple words, but those words contain the world. I love the completeness of this prayer given to us by Jesus. It reminds us that God is first and that God is all; it reminds us of God’s holiness and of the absolute rightness of His will in heaven and on earth; and it places us at our Father’s knee, asking for all of the things, and only the things, that will lead us to Him.
And in Psalm 34, we learn how this kind of prayer places us in the path of the blessings God wants us to have. The beautiful certainty that when we seek God, He answers us: this creates joy in us. We are promised that God will rescue us from all distress.
The cynical little voice somewhere in my head says, Yeah, right. I’m praying every day, but there is still plenty of distress to go around. And of course, there is. But I think what today’s readings are telling us is that it doesn’t have to be our distress. The more we are focused on glorifying God, praising Him, and doing His will, the more we are open to placing all of our needs in His hands, the less ownership we need to have in all that distress. It is our clinging to the idea that everything is up to us, our grasping at the notion that it’s up to us to eliminate the distress and make everything better, that keeps us down and separates us from joy.
It’s the utter simplicity of this relationship God offers us that is at the same time off-putting and wonderfully attractive. Our human nature would have us grasping for control. Like a puppeteer trying to manage the strings of a dozen puppets, we make things complicated and we deny God the privilege of simplifying them for us.
We get so tangled up in all those strings, in the complexities we create, and God, like the loving Father He is, is simply waiting to rescue us.
Dear Father, create in me a heart that is willing to be rescued. Save me from my own will and in Your infinite grace and mercy, lead me to want and to do only Yours. Amen.
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