Kelli and I proudly consider ourselves opera snobs; we’d choose to see an opera over any other form of entertainment. Our list of operas to see is long, but there is one that I crave to see more than others.
Minnesota resident Stephen Paulus wrote an opera featuring the story of the Three Hermits by Leo Tolstoy. The plot is that a bishop hears of the existence of three hermits living a sparse existence on a small island, where they focus on attaining salvation for their souls.
When he arrives, the bishop asks the hermits how they pray for salvation. They reply with, “Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us.” Realizing the hermits’ ignorance of proper words and doctrine he teaches them the Lord’s Prayer; but they had great difficulties memorizing it. After sometime and satisfied that they had memorized it, the bishop departs.
On the way back to shore the captain notices that they are being followed. He sees that it was the hermits running across the surface of the water towards the boat. When they catch up, the hermits tell the bishop that they had forgotten the prayer. “When we stopped staying it for a time, a word dropped out, and now it has all gone to pieces. We can remember nothing of it now. Teach us again.” The humbled bishop tells the hermits that their own prayer will reach the Lord, and that they should be teaching him.
It didn’t matter the words the hermits were praying because they were obviously sincere; sincere enough to follow Jesus’ footsteps on water.
In order to give guidance, Jesus offered a particular prayer and way to speak to God. When we pray we should first be sincere. If we pray any prayer and do not think of the meaning of the words we say, what response should we expect? Are we really praying for the things we say or are we just going through the motions?
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trail and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.