The ‘Our Father’ prayer is a common prayer we say all the time when we gather in communal worship and with each other. The Our Father is our Christian calling card and is the great ecumenical prayer uniting many Christians despite differences in theological interpretations. Such a prayer reminds us of our need to follow His will be done before being granted our petition for our daily bread.
When we draw closer to the Lord and acknowledge His holy name before all else, our hearts and souls will benefit. As the catechism 2761 of the Catholic Church indicates, the Lord’s Prayer is the summation of the whole gospel (https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P9W.HTM). The acknowledgement of the doxology ending with granting God power for His is the kingdom, power and glory is mentioned in the Didache and was part of the rite early on per catechism 2760 https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P9V.HTM#-2QP). The doxology of the Lord’s Prayer also reminds us of David’s prayer in which David blesses the Lord God recognizing that all riches and glory are from God (1. Chron. 29:10-13).
As St. Thomas Aquinas acknowledges in the Summa Theologiae, (ST IIIa, Q21) “prayer is the unfolding of our will to God, that He may fulfill it” (https://aquinas101.thomisticinstitute.org/st-iiia-q-21#TPQ21OUTP1). Such is the awesome promise found in Luke’s gospel 11:9 about asking and receiving, seeking and finding, knocking and having doors opened.
Does the power of prayer grant us everything we desire or should our prayer be about what we desire for God’s will working in our life? Our communal mission we are on as Christian disciples is about bringing forth His will & kingdom in the here & now vs. waiting for the Parousia (2nd coming) to take place. Heaven is not some far off place, but a state of being in which we prepare for now on this earthly journey each & every time we recite this prayer. Fundamentally the Lord’s Prayer is about placing our trust in our God & allowing His kingdom to flourish within our daily lives. As John’s gospel reminds us, He is the living bread come down from heaven (Jn. 6:51) and He is the living water (Jn. 7:37).
The most difficult aspect for many is being dependent on His will vs. our own per the first part of the Lord’s Prayer. The other most difficult aspect of this prayer is the forgiveness of not only our trespasses, but those who trespass against us. After all, our hearts must be hearts of flesh not made hard as that of stone per the prophet Ezekiel (Ez. 36:26). Being able to forgive and become dependent on something other than our sense of self or ego is a difficult task, but one only needs to gaze upon the corpus of our Lord Jesus hanging upon the cross to be reminded of the great sacrifice. It was He who knew no sin that became sin for our sake that we might become “the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
As our Lord reminds us, some of the best prayer times are in the silence of our rooms with only us and God where we are sincere (Mt. 6:6). Today, let us more profoundly reflect on the Lord’s Prayer and let His will be done both on earth as it is in heaven.
The Eric Estrom photograph showing the humble man that posed for the photo Grace in the small mining town of Bovey, Mn. would become Estrom’s greatest work (https://gracebyenstrom.com/story/). For me, such a portrait symbolizes the Our Father.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.