Friday 1 April: Lent 2011

lent fp

You are encouraged to pray the prayer, pause, read the scripture, pause, read the reflection, and then pray the prayer again.

The Breastplate Prayer

May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder,
The coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head,
The sign of Christ be on this forehead,
The hearing of the Holy Spirit be in these ears,
The smelling of the Holy Spirit in this nose.
The vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes,
The speech of the people of heaven in this mouth,
The work of the Church of God in these hands
The good of God and of neighbour in these feet.
May God dwell in this heart,
And this person belong entirely to God the Father.

‘May the speech of the people of heaven be in this mouth’

Matthew 6:9-13

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

Jesus taught us to pray this way; with few words but forceful ones. The prayer that Christ taught comprises words and phrases so memorable and full of meaning that his prayer has spoken for men, women, boys and girls in every generation since.

The Lord’s own prayer is a model of the power of brevity, leaving us with seven simple sentences to express the heart of whatever we may need to say. If our prayers are to follow its divine example then perhaps we might not want our words of prayer to be too long! Remember that Jesus’ complaint against the Gentiles’ prayer. They think they will be heard,’ he said, ‘because of the multiplicity of their words.’ Our prayer during Lent has been both short and simple, yet profound.

When words are few and forceful, they have a power to remain in the memory for a long time. A cutting insult spoken in a moment’s vulnerability can leave a wound that time alone can never heal. A word of blessing, love or affirmation spoken can give joy and retain its power to do so for a lifetime.

Jesus’ own teachings often concluded with words that are hard to forget:

• Go therefore and do likewise.

• Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.

• By this people will know that you are my disciples: that you love one another.

• As the Father sent me so I send you.

• Let the children come to me, for the Kingdom belongs to such as these.

• Whatever you did to the least of these my brethren you did to me.

• This is my body given for you. This is my blood of the New Covenant.

• I am the way, the truth and the life.

The very fact that, one-and-a-half millennia later, you and I are meditating together on these words is more than proof enough that God breathed something this prayer:

‘May the speech of the people of God be in this mouth.