The Lord’s Prayer
The disciples had been travelling with Jesus for some time and no doubt began to notice how frequently Jesus prayed, especially before important events, like the Transfiguration. So, it is no wonder that after hearing Jesus pray to the Father about how only the Son can reveal the Father to the world that the disciples ask Jesus a simple question: Can you teach us how to pray? Jesus responds by teaching them the Lord’s Prayer, The Our Father.
The disciples’ simple question led to what is now the model for all Christian prayer. It is the perfect prayer in that it covers everything regarding our relationship with God and our needs as God’s children. The structure of prayer even helps us to put our lives in proper order. The prayer can be brought down into the opening address and seven petitions:
Our Father who art in heaven,
1. Hallowed be thy name.
2. Thy Kingdom come.
3. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
4. Give us this day our daily bread.
5. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
6. And lead us not into temptation,
7. but deliver us from evil.
We begin with the opening address, by calling God “Father,” which reflects our own identity as adopted sons and daughters of God through our Baptism. Then we focus our first three petitions on God: we acknowledge God’s holiness, we express a desire for his Kingdom, and we seek to unite our will with God’s. By placing our attention on God, we draw closer to God and begin to leave behind all that would hold us back from loving God.
The final four petitions acknowledge our own weaknesses and call on God’s mercy. They address our basic human need for nourishment, both physical and spiritual, and for forgiveness, for both ourselves and others. They also focus on our struggle to resist sin, our need for God’s grace to persevere, and our hope in deliverance from all that would keep us from the eternal life already won by Christ. The Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to love God and gives us the words to express and deepen that love. As followers of Jesus, we are called to not only pray the Lord’s Prayer frequently, but to live it!
Catechism, nos. 2759-2776