Readings for July 28, 2019
When my wife and I taught Sunday School for 4-year-olds, my wife found an acronym for what is needed to make a good prayer. We taught the kids they needed to do their PART in prayer: Praise, Ask, Repent, and Thank. Even in rote recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, it is clear that all those elements are within its words. But in our rote prayer, we may take for granted that this prayer, taught by Jesus to his closest friends, is a powerful and relational prayer that was then, and still is today, a breathtakingly bold call for God to reign supreme in our lives.
And I would expect nothing less from a prayer commanded by Jesus. He came to this world to shake things up, to renew and sanctify a relationship between God and mankind, and to do so regardless of the cost. So naturally, our bold Savior commanded us to pray a bold prayer, beginning it with a bold phrase: “Our Father.” When we pray the Lord’s prayer, we, with Jesus’ invitation, dare to enter into a filial relationship with God, petitioning our Father as His sons and daughters. We dare to petition our Father with persistence, as did Abraham regarding Sodom and Gomorrah, and as did the friend knocking at the door asking for a loaf of bread. And we do so knowing that God is good and holy and will listen to our prayer and give us what we need.
We can do this wholly because of Jesus’ command and his sacrifice. “Only Jesus could cross that threshold of the divine holiness, for when he had made purification for sins, he brought us into the Father’s presence” (CCC 2777). And with Jesus as the bridge, another important lesson becomes clear. In the Lord’s Prayer we also pray, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” This connection from God to us as His children, and from His forgiveness to ours for those around us, inexorably link the love of God to our love of neighbor, recognizing that “the Lord’s words on forgiveness, the love that loves to the end, become a living reality” (CCC 2843).
So when we pray the Lord’s prayer, we boldly speak to God as His children, “Our Father…” but we also confidently acknowledge His holiness and His reign as King “…who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name.”
We then prayerfully acknowledge Christ’s fulfillment of the coming of God’s Kingdom here on earth “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Next, having established a filial and reverent relationship with God, we ask those special favors for our lives, knocking at our friend’s door no matter the hour, “Give us this day our daily bread.”
And as we pray, we, of course, humbly ask for the forgiveness of our sins “and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” And finally, conscious of our interconnectedness, we accept that there is evil in the world and turn to God to guide us away from that evil and deliver us to His glory “and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me. Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever!