Praying and Living the Our Father

 Scripture       Luke 11: 1-13


                    “Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished,

                        one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray,

                     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 indebted to us.

                              And lead us not into temptation.”



Today we deal with Luke's version of this most famous of all prayers. We call it "the Lord's Prayer," but it could be more accurately called "the Disciples' Prayer."  The Our Father is Jesus’ own prayer and he gives his disciples and every Christian believer this prayer as his very own.  Not only is this a formal vocal prayer that we share in common with Jesus, but more specially, the Our Father is a way of praying, a way of living. “Pray like this,” Jesus says.



The Our Father is much more than six simple petitions to be recited; rather when each of these is interiorized they reflect qualities that are characteristic of a truly Christian prayer life. We have here in today’s Gospel Jesus’ own teaching, not on what to pray, but how to pray.  “When you pray…”



Pray “Our Father”:  Let your prayer be personal, intimate, you can now dare to be intimate with God.  You are a child of Abba. As son, as daughter, you are loved, cherished, cared for, believed in by an all-loving and all-provident Father.  As ‘child’ then, there is no need to go on babbling with many words: these only agitate and block receptivity. A ‘child’ just has to draw close to Love, to the Father who already knows everything that we have need of. So pray, listening, pray, being still, move in rhythm with God’s praying within you – in deep interior quiet and stillness. The Spirit of Jesus Himself will help us in our weakness, as Paul says “for when we cannot find the proper words to pray, the Spirit of Jesus within us will express our pleas to the Father in a way that words could never express.” In this loving relationship, a child of Abba is receptive to the language of silence.



Pray “hallowed be your name”: A quality of prayer that is natural and spontaneous to this relationship of adoration.  Unlike other human loves between equals where there is a person to love and cherish, here is a Person to love and adore.  Prayer is filled with a reverence, an awe, a wonder, a mystery that responds to something at the very core of our being.  There is a God to adore living within me.



Pray ”your kingdom come”: Prayer evokes loving surrender, an abandonment of one’s entire self to the Other.  We learn to place ourselves at God’s disposal and let Him use us and do with us as He pleases.  Such docility and obedience allow us to grant God the freedom to act in, through and with us.  As lovers, there can be only one desire, one will shared between the two.  It is “Thy will be done.”



Pray ”Give us each day our daily bread”: Christian prayer epitomizes this quality of childlike confident trust in the provident care of God.  He is caring for us so we have no need to cling to self-sufficiency and over anxious solicitude.  Trying to do so only exhausts us, makes us rigid, tense and very controlling. And it is daily bread – no living on some storehouse of the future, or on yesterday’s leftover reserves, but today, this day’s sufficiency.  We have a God of this present moment who is sustaining us, nourishing us, lifting us…and this God is My Enough.



Pray “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive everyone indebted to us.”  A relationship that has not yet experienced forgiveness has not yet come to know the capacity of its love.  God is never more God than when He forgives.  The very perfection of His giving is His for-giving.  Until we come to know and acknowledge our need for forgiveness we will not come to know the depths of compassion in the heart of God.  The immensity of God’s love is intimately bound up with His patience in forgiveness.  Our pride, self-isolation and self-sufficiency is all that is keeping us from experiencing this Joy – the joy of being a redeemed sinner.



Pray “Lead us not into temptation”: The quality of prayer characteristic of all Christian pilgrims journeying home to the Father in and through this world that is so often very hostile to God, is the need for a vibrant faith and confident hope.  We learn to place all our strength and courage in our abiding God, being so mindful of our own inner poverty and vulnerability and proneness to temptation and the seductions of evil, that we rely on Christ’s power to bolster us up in our weakness and deliver us safely through all that befalls us in our journey Home into the heart of God.  



The Lord's Prayer we can say, repeat over and over again, pray it for a long time until the prayer takes on a deep significance in our life. We pray the prayer until we become what we are saying.  We live our prayer.  We live the Our Father…not the words, but the reality, the mystery, the Presence.  When the lips become silent, the heart prays ceaselessly:  love, adoration, surrender, dependence, forgiveness, faith.  It takes time and docility to pray like this! Jesus spent a whole long solitary night on just one simple petition: “Thy will be done”.  Interiorizing the Our Father will probably take us a lifetime.  Jesus taught us how to pray in order to teach us how to live.  The Our Father then is the prayer and the ‘way of life” for every Christian. 




Carrying Grace       Teresa of Avila spent the final years of her life praying this Prayer!



#5 arletteh 2010-07-27 15:25
"Seek and you will find!"The road lies ahead!We keep on ploughing!Thank you,markd and rosemary.May the pause bring deep joy!
#4 Mark Dickinson 2010-07-26 21:31
In the same section of Scripture, Luke writes "Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to thos who ask him!" ....
"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."
Can God's message get any simpler than this??
#3 Mark Dickinson 2010-07-26 21:30
As with so much of Jesus' teachings, this "model prayer" offers us insight into the "character and personality" of God. Our relationship with God is as a parent-child relationship. It's an image of God's character that says 'I will do all things possible for you ... because I love you'.
To borrow the words of scholar and author Marcus Borg: "As parents, you know your desire is to give good things to your children. Do you imagine that God is any different? God's character is like that of parents who give good gifts to their children."
#2 arletteh 2010-07-26 00:19
Interesting that Teresa of Avila meditated on the "Our Father" for the last years of her life!Much silence is needed for a true picture. In a former reflection, you said,rosemary,: "The mystical grows slowly and in great gentleness." That is comforting!I need much more time to pray the Our Father, to let it pray in me.I find it difficult!But then I think that Jesus said :"whoever sees Me,sees the Father."
#1 arletteh 2010-07-26 00:07
I often meditate on the word"Father", and have been helped by such reflections as:the portrayal of God in Scriptures, for e. g.:God's PATIENCE:"slow to anger and rich in mercy";God as teacher and leader, bringing us to FREEDOM;God as PROTECTOR,as St. Joseph of his family;God as CREATOR,delight ing in creation and in creation abundantly continuing to create;God as being LOVING and TENDER,lifting an infant to His cheek:Hosea11,2 -4;God as a FORGIVING Father:and the humility we need to recognize our own faults,and our need for forgiveness,and the delight of knowing we are forgiven.(thank you esp. for that reflection, rosemary!)

You must LOGIN to add a comment.