Jesus Teaches Us to Pray

“This is how you are to pray: 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; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

When Jesus taught his disciples about prayer during the Sermon on the Mount, he taught that in prayer we are to address God as Father. Jesus himself in addressing God called on him with the name Abba, which meant “daddy” to the Jewish people. In the Lord’s Prayer, we begin by calling on God as Father.

St Thomas Aquinas, called the Lord’s Prayer “the most perfect of prayers”, and Saint Augustine described it as containing all that is in the Scriptures. He goes on to say, “We need to use words so that we may remind ourselves to consider carefully what we are asking, not so that we may think we can instruct the Lord or prevail on him.” The Lord’s Prayer is truly the summary of the whole Gospel, because it expresses all that the Scriptures reveal about God and about his plan of salvation. The seven petitions of Lord’s Prayer contain all that we need to live as Christians. By looking at the seven petitions, we can fully understand all that the Lord’s Prayer encompasses.

The first three petitions are focused on God and give him the glory and honor that is due. Here we acknowledge God’s greatness, praise and thank him for his goodness, and pray that all people will come to know and do his will.

Hallowed be thy name. Hallowed means to be holy. We do not make God’s name holy; God is the source of his own holiness.

Thy kingdom come. This petition refers primarily to the final coming of the reign of God, at the Second Coming of Christ. But the Church is also a sign of the Kingdom of God here on earth, and when we pray “thy Kingdom come: we are praying for the Church’s mission of salvation for all people and committing ourselves to its work.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We ask God to unite our will to that of Jesus so that the plan of salvation in the world may be fulfilled. We pray that God will help us to obey his will; following the examples Jesus gave us.

The remaining four petitions have to do with human needs – the needs of the body and soul – for us and for the whole human family.

Give us this day our daily bread. We ask God to provide us with all our earthly needs and those of the whole human family. We acknowledge that we are dependent on God, and recognize his goodness in caring for us.

            Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We ask God to forgive us when we sin, and ask him to help us be more forgiving of others who hurt us.

            And lead us not into temptation. Here we ask God to help us avoid sin. We entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit so that we may be aware of temptations and have the grace to resist sin.

            But deliver us from evil. This is a prayer in union with the whole Church that God’s goodness will prevail against the evil that exists in the world.

“I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Luke 11:9)

Submitted by Sharon Shipley Zubricky ‘76

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