Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tuesday of the First Week in Lent

(Isaiah 55:10-11; Matthew 6:7-15)

The great American film director and actor Clint Eastwood epitomizes an economy of words. He made his name in movies as the laconic stranger of “spaghetti westerns” (i.e., cowboy movies shot in Europe). When Eastwood directs a film, he famously cuts much of the wording from its original script and finishes it with only a month of shooting. Could Eastwood not be pleased with Jesus’ advice about prayer today?

The “Lord’s Prayer” prioritizes God’s goodness as it rapidly courses through seven petitions. “…thy Kingdom come, thy will be done,” it says upfront, trusting that the fulfillment of these requests will bring blessings. The remaining four petitions are a bit longer and more specific, but in no way do they detail what the heart desires. They merely relieve the anxiety of living as doves in a sinful world.

Jesus means to emphasize that as our Father, God knows our needs better than we. There is no need on the Father’s part to remind Him of the many people who are hurting. Yet the practice of naming those for whom we pray likely helps us to focus our love. Still, lest we become lost in our concerns, we do well to just meditate on any one of the seven petitions thinking of how God might fulfill it.