Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
(Isaiah 55:10-11; Matthew 6:7-15)
People speak of “storming heaven.” They mean that they will say prayer after prayer until they receive what they request. Evidently they think of God as remote and apathetic to human need. Perhaps they have the wicked magistrate of the Lucan parable in mind. But Jesus is clear in that image that God is much better than the corrupt judge. In today’s passage from the Gospel of Matthew he gives us a truer way to approach God.
Jesus tells his disciples that the way to secure answer to prayers is to forgive others’ offenses. There may be something circular at play here. If one can forgive others’ sins, that person seems to have already achieved sanctity – the final aim of all prayer. But there is more to prayer than that. Prayer connects a person with God so that her mind expands to see God’s will. She gives up her narrow view of reality and finds God working in more efficacious ways.
Saintly theologians say that we cannot alter God’s will. At the same time they encourage us to pray. They say that prayer changes us. That fact alone improves the situation for all.