20 February 2018
It’s the Christian prayer par excellence. That shouldn’t surprise us; it was taught by Jesus himself. We pray this prayer at every mass, in the rosary and as a conclusion to any number of Church meetings. It was the prayer my dad taught me to pray before I went to sleep at night. Christians of all stripes and flavours pray this prayer. It gets a lot of airplay!
But have you ever taken the time to really think about what you’re praying? Jesus gave His disciples this prayer as the antithesis of a ‘‘words for words’ sake’’ approach:
‘In your prayers do not babble as the pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So you should pray like this…
The truth is that libraries of books have been written about the Lord’s Prayer. Every word is dripping with meaning and theological impact. Here’s a secret: Sometimes I pray the Lord’s prayer in the night if I wake up and struggle to get back to sleep. I pray it slowly, reflecting deeply on each word. I find it amazing. Sometimes I don’t get past the first two words. ‘‘Our Father…’’ There is a world of profound theology right there!
Pray the Lord’s prayer today – slowly and with love – and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the beauty and power of these words you are so familiar with. For a fresh perspective, use the translation from the Jerusalem Bible, the text for the Gospel of today’s Mass.
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be held holy,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us.
And do not put us to the test,
but save us from the evil one.