Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just 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 in debt to us
and do not subject us to the final test.” (Luke 11:1-4)
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They had been watching him. They had been traveling with him, seeing how he passed his time. Clearly, prayer was an anchor for the Lord. Clearly, the disciples recognized that their own life of prayer was not at the same level as Christ’s prayer. But they wanted to grow, to improve. They wanted their prayer life to be what it should be.
So, they asked the master to teach them.
He did in a simple prayer that encapsulated all that he was teaching. All that he wanted his disciples to be. if we take these words to our heart, we are led to a relationship. A relationship that marks our common bond as sons and daughters of God. And a relationship that binds us to the love of our father.
He began by putting an adjective on the word Father: “Our.” We don’t pray just for ourselves or alone. We pray for and with all of the others who are sons and daughters of that same Father, those who are our brothers and sisters. We begin to look at each as the other really is, as a spiritual sibling, as a beloved fellow son or daughter of the same Father to whom with Jesus and Mary we turn.
You and I. His children. All of us.
If we believe that and treasure that then the person who annoys me, the person whose politics are vastly different than mine, the person who has harmed us, all of them have one thing in common – they are our brothers and sisters. Worthy of his love and that means worthy of my love.
Jesus’ prayers were all to the Father, to whom he turned with great trust and love. In teaching us how to pray, Jesus was trying to form us to enter into his own divine filiation and to pray with loving confidence.
He told us in the Sermon on the Plain that if earthly parents aren’t sadists but know how to give good things to their children, so God the Father won’t give us a stone when we ask for bread, or a poisonous eel when we ask for fish, but will give himself — the Holy Spirit — no matter what we ask for.
Think about that. When we are going through a hard time, when we are facing the most severe testing of our life, when we are sitting by the side of a loved one and praying for recovery, our Father does and will answer us.
While we pray for a specific outcome, our Father answers us by giving of himself in the Holy Spirit. . . to give us strength to move through adversity, to give us peace in a time of turmoil, to comfort us in our tears. While humanity created the evil that surrounds us at these moments, our Father holds us close and whispers his love in our ears.
So many things strike us about this prayer, which is itself a revelation about what being a Christian really means. It shows that Christianity is eminently relational. Relational between us and Father and relational in our bond to one another.
The power of the Incarnation is a vibrant, ongoing restoration of relationships that sin has broken. Even our moral duties are presented by Our Lord in this prayer as relational: “for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us.”
Christianity is not a moral code. Christianity is not a one-time acceptance of a creed. Christianity is a friendship journey, with all the vibrancy and drama that come with a commitment to any meaningful relationship. If it ever starts to feel dry, boring, or predictable, we can be sure that we have strayed from its true path.
We just have to keep nourishing our desire to live more like Jesus, to learn from him, to discover in all the ups and downs of our daily life all the lessons he wants to teach us and all the graces he wants to give us. Then, when we are ready for the everlasting adventure of heaven, he will take us home.
Home to our Father.
Prayer of The Day
“Father in heaven, you have given me a mind to know you, a will to serve you, and a heart to love you. Give me today the grace and strength to embrace your holy will and fill my heart with your love that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to you. Help me to be kind and forgiving towards my neighbor as you have been towards me.”
The prayer that comes to us from Jesus is truly unique; it is ‘of the Lord.’ On the one hand, in the words of this prayer the only Son gives us the words the Father gave him. He is the master of our prayer. On the other, as Word incarnate, he knows in his human heart the needs of his human brothers and sisters and reveals them to us.”