How Shall I Pray?
February 23, 2021 (readings)
- Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
- Cathy Stamper
Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. “This is how you are to pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, teach me to pray simply, sincerely, and with an open heart. Give me the grace to surrender to you in prayer.
Simple Words for Perfect Prayer: These words of Jesus are perfect, simple, and concise. Each precious phrase invites us to a conversion of heart, soul, and mind. Christ tells us we should begin our prayer with a surrender to the divinity of God, our almighty Father. We then ask our loving Father for seven petitions: 1) Hallowed be thy name, 2) Thy kingdom come, 3) Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, 4) Give us our daily bread, 5) Forgive us our trespasses, 6) Lead us not into temptation, and 7) Deliver us from evil. Christ’s words are eloquent in their simplicity and clarity, yet they contain challenge upon challenge to our fallen human nature.
A Synthesis of Scripture: Each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer touches upon truths found in other parts of Scripture. Only Jesus could have spontaneously provided such a beautiful synthesis of the Divine Word for us! For example, when we say “Our Father in heaven,” we echo Isaiah 66:1 and Acts 7:49: “Heaven is your throne and the earth is your footstool.” “Hallowed be thy name” is reflected here: “From the rising of the sun to its setting, may your name be praised and be great among the nations! Let your glory be over all the earth!” (Psalms 113:3-4). “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” is similar to,“For the glory of your name, deliver us and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! (Psalms 79:9). (For a more complete look at the scriptural roots of the Our Father, see Expanded Lord's Prayer with Scripture References.) The Lord’s Prayer, awesome in its depth and scope, offers a perfect framework for our daily prayer.
Grace for Our Prayer Lives: The Our Father is one of the most familiar prayers in all of Christianity. In our fallen human state, we can easily speak the words of the Lord’s Prayer mechanically, but to truly surrender ourselves to our Father, we need his help. Only the grace of the Holy Spirit can conform our hearts and minds to the aspirations of this prayer. Like children, we must ask for our Father’s assistance in a task that we can not hope to accomplish alone.
Conversation with Christ: Oh Lord, how easy it is to speak the words to the Lord’s Prayer. I have known it all my life. How hard it is to open my heart and mind and pray as I should. Please give me a childlike trust in you, my beloved Father. I humbly ask you to send your Spirit upon me, and to unite my soul to each and every word of this perfect prayer.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will write out the Lord’s Prayer, leaving space between each line. I will use those blank spaces to jot down inspirations from the Holy Spirit on how I can better pray each part of this most perfect prayer.
For Further Reflection: Read more about the Our Father in Catechism of the Catholic Church 2803-2854.
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