Honesty is the best policy in prayer. When we admit we need help, that's when we get help. When we admit our weakness, prayer-power reaches perfection (2 Cor 12:9).
Gospel text (Lk 11:1-4): One day Jesus was praying in a certain place and when He had finished, one of his disciples said to him, «Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples». And Jesus said to them, «When you pray, say this: Father, hallowed be your name, may your kingdom come, give us each day the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins, for we also for-give all who do us wrong, and do not bring us to the test».
Today, we see how one of Jesus' disciples tells him: «Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples» (Lk 11:1). Jesus' reply: «When you pray, say this: Father, hallowed be your name, may your kingdom come, give us each day the kind of bread we need, and forgive us our sins, for we also forgive all who do us wrong, and do not bring us to the test» (Lk 11:2-4), may be summarized in a single phrase: the best mental attitude for the Christian prayer is that of a child in front of his father.
We can see right away that the prayer, according to Jesus, is something like a “father-son” kinship. That is, a family matter based on a relation of closeness and love. The image of God as a father speaks to us of a relationship based on affection and intimacy, not on power and authority.
To pray as Christians means to position ourselves in a situation whereby we see God as our father and we speak to him as his sons: «You write: ‘To pray is to talk with God. But about what?’. About what? About Him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know him and to get to know yourself: ‘to get acquainted!’» (St. Josemaria).
We must know our weaknesses in prayer: when we're only giving God lip-service (Mt 15:8), when our hearts are far from the Lord.
When we recognize our weakness, we can get help by repenting of our sins, turning to the Spirit, and asking others to intercede for us. The Lord does not expect us to be self-sufficient in prayer. He accepts us in our weakness, but we don't accept ourselves.
When children speak with their parents they try to transmit, through their words and body language, what they feel in their heart. We become better praying men and women when our relation with God is more intimate, as that of a father with his son. Jesus himself left with us his own example. He is the Way.
And, if you invoke the Virgin Mother of God, master of prayer, it will even be easier! In fact «the contemplation of Christ has in Mary its insurmountable model. The Son's face belongs to her in a very special way (...). Nobody has devoted himself with Mary's assiduity to the contemplation of Christ's face» (John Paul II).
I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers to God make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those effects down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives. - Peter Kreeft Ph.D., is a professor of philosophy at Boston College