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The Lord’s Prayer...and Ours

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"’Our Father who art in heaven.’ Among all other prayers, the Lord's Prayer holds the chief place. It has five excellent qualities which are required in all prayer. A prayer must be confident, ordered, suitable, devout and humble.” ~ Saint Thomas Aquinas

In today’s Gospel (Matthew 6:7-15), we pick up on yesterday discussion wherein Jesus spoke of the importance of prayer. It is in today’s passage however that Jesus gives his Apostles personal guidance on how to pray.

Many have said that the “Our Father” is in fact the perfect prayer. It is during its recitation that we give thanks, acknowledge God as the center of our very being, reinforce the fact that we must forgo our own will and instead pursue God’s will in our lives. If that’s not enough, we then go on to ask the Lord to provide us with that which we need ~ no more no less ~ seeking forgiveness and acknowledging our need to be forgiving. Finally, we proactively seek the Lord’s help in keeping us clear of sin and firmly on the road to eternal salvation. Asking the Lord to ”deliver us from evil“ is, for all intents and purposes, asking for protection from Satan, who by his existence is the very grim definition of evil.

So much ground covered in such a short prayer.

Like all prayer, when we turn our hearts towards the Father and bring Him our needs, we recognize that he is God and we are not. We acknowledge that we cannot fix ourselves. Or anyone else. It’s interesting to note that today’s Gospel passage closes with Jesus reminding us yet again of the importance of forgiving others. After having recited the prayer that went on to become known as the ”Our Father,“ he could’ve chosen any one of a number of items to include in the re-cap. That Jesus specifically chooses to remind us of the importance of forgiving others of their transgressions merely underscores how important it is to make unconditional forgiveness a part of our Catholic Christian DNA. In the words of the ever-quotable C.S. Lewis, “we must forgive others or be damned.”

As Bishop Barron points out in his Daily Gospel Reflection, the first Christians saw the Resurrection of Jesus as the commencement of the process by which earth and heaven were being reconciled. They appreciated the risen Christ as the one who would bring the justice of heaven to this world. In many respects, the Lord’s Prayer underscores and even advances the apocalyptic words of the prophet Isaiah when he said "the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea."

Be sure to regularly and with great confidence recite the prayer of which Saint Cyprian once described as “the friendly, familiar, and devout prayer, offered to the Lord in His own words,” knowing that “no one goes away from this prayer without fruit.“

He shall cry to me; and I will hear him.” ~ Psalm 91:15