We often call the "Our Father" the Lord’s Prayer. But when I think about it isn’t a prayer that Jesus prayed for himself like his high priestly prayer at the Last Supper recounted by John or his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane reported by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. This is a prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray.
Obviously the disciples took it to heart. The Didache, the earliest account we have of the Eucharistic celebration in the Church, places the Our Father after the Canon of the Mass and just before Communion. Every catechumen was taught this prayer and recited it publicly for the first time at their baptism.
The question for ourselves who live 2000 years after Jesus taught this prayer is how it shapes our prayer life today. What attitudes and concerns do we bring to prayer?
When we pray do we turn to the Father whose power is bringing his kingdom to fulfillment on earth? Our God is not remote, but present and active in our world. Do we thrill to the nearness and vitality of our God? Do we sense that we are cooperating with the Father’s grand plan of salvation?
Do we ask for nourishment of not only our body but our spirit? Do we yearn to be fed by the Lord? What is the "bread" we seek? It is certainly mysterious bread because scholars today can only guess at the meaning of the adjective epiousion that modifies the bread we seek. The translation "daily" is a probable guess
When I come to prayer do I realize that I am a sinner in need of forgiveness? Am I even aware that my own willingness to forgive prepares me to receive
the Father’s forgiveness? And finally am I ready to depend upon God in moments of temptation? Do I rightly fear the power of the evil one and look to God for deliverance?
Thank you Lord for teaching me HOW to pray.
Fr. Michael Hoolahan, C.P. is on the staff of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.