The Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 11:1-4
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.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
What simple and powerful words, “Lord, teach us to pray!” Many Catholics, from an early age, learned – the Our Father (Lord’s Prayer), the Hail Mary and the Glory Be. The Lord’s Prayer stands out most because it was the prayer that Jesus, Himself, taught His disciples – what to pray and how to pray!
Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ request “teach us to pray” takes us to the heart of His own prayer. We can pray this prayer only while contemplating Jesus and accepting His invitation to join Him in the intimacy of His communion with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
To pray to God, our ‘Father’, is to be in union with Jesus. It is to join with His prayer and to allow His Spirit to move our hearts and minds to greater love.
‘Forgive us our sins, as we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us’. Is the wonderful gift of God’s forgiveness that brings us and gives us the strength to forgive others. It is impossible to repay God for all that God has given, and so Jesus asks his Father to cast aside the debt. Jesus knows our human condition and limitations, and He asks His Father and teaches us to keep praying to Him for life, love, and communion.
Action of the Day
I want to share an article on the seven petitions of the Our Father from the Clarion Herald, by Tim Hedrick. I won’t read them but ask that you read and reflect on them in your prayer time.
Jesus taught his disciples the prayer traditionally known as the “Our Father” or “the Lord’s Prayer.” This prayer appears in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.
Is there a particular structure to the Our Father?
After the initial address to the Father, the prayer itself is composed of seven petitions. There are three “thy-petitions” (thy name, thy kingdom, thy will) followed by four “us-petitions” (give us, forgive us, lead us not and deliver us). In order to better understand the Lord’s Prayer, it is important to briefly examine each petition.
“Our Father, who art in heaven…”
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he did not teach them to pray “My Father,” but rather “Our Father.” This reminds us that we are God’s sons and daughters together in Christ, not as isolated individuals. It is only as the body of Christ that we can pray to God as Father. When we call God “Father,” it is a reminder for us to live as children in relation with God. In teaching us to call God “Father,” Jesus also tells us that we have the privilege to call God by the same name he used in his intimate relationship with the Father.
“Hallowed be thy name…”
In the first petition, we are asking that God’s name would be “hallowed” or sanctified. Objectively speaking, God’s name is already holy, but the prayer is asking that God make his name holy to all people through his works and deeds. (See Ezekiel 36:22-27.)
“Thy kingdom come…”
The second petition has a twofold meaning. First, we are praying for the coming of the kingdom of God here and now in our everyday lives. At the same time, we are also praying for Christ’s glorious return at the end of time and the final coming of the reign of God.
“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”
The third petition asks God that our will be conformed to his divine will. When Jesus was praying to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, he also used the words “thy will be done.” When we pray “thy will be done” we commit ourselves to following Jesus by taking up our cross.
“Give us this day, our daily bread…”
In the fourth petition, “give us” expresses our trust in our heavenly Father. “Our daily bread” refers to our earthly nourishment that is necessary to physically sustain us throughout the day and the Bread of Life (the Word of God and the Body of Christ) that spiritually nourishes us. As Catholics, we are privileged to receive the “Bread of Life” daily in the Mass.
“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”
In the fifth petition, we beg for God’s mercy for the times that we have fallen short of loving God and loving our neighbor. We acknowledge that the Father’s mercy and forgiveness are able to penetrate our hearts to the extent that we are able to forgive our enemies.
“Lead us not into temptation…”
Some people wonder why we would ask God not to lead us into temptation. The letter of St. James clearly says that God does not tempt us with evil (James 1:13). Therefore, in this petition, we are asking that God does not allow us to take the path that leads to sin. We are praying to avoid the near occasion of sin.
“But deliver us from evil…”
Closely tied to the previous prayer, in this final petition, we are asking God to protect us from evil. The Catechism teaches that the “evil” in this petition is not an abstract evil, but actually “refers to a person, Satan, the Evil One, the angel who opposes God” (CCC, 2851). While we acknowledge the reality of the devil, we place our trust in Christ and his definitive victory over evil on the cross.
After praying all of these petitions, we end by affirming our belief in all that we have prayed by saying “Amen” or “So be it!”