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The Lord’s Prayer
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent
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 Jesus, teach me to pray as you pray to the Father. I want to join in your mission for our salvation and your communion with the Holy Trinity. I want to pray like you.
- Many Words: The Our Father prayer is probably one, if not the most, frequently recited traditional prayer of the Church. It is offered daily at every Mass and in the Divine Office, which is prayed by every Roman Catholic priest and by many orders of religious sisters and laypeople as well. Also called the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father introduces each of the five decades of the rosary. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that the Our Father is prayed many, many, thousands of times a day. Because it’s so familiar, we can sometimes find ourselves reciting this beautiful prayer thoughtlessly, babbling like the pagans. Our Lord understands this tendency, but when we catch ourselves being distracted, we can simply return our mind to heartfelt prayer, which pleases him. As St. Edmund reminds us, “It is better to say one Our Father fervently and devoutly than a thousand with no devotion and full of distraction.”
- Your Father Knows What You Need: Vocal prayers like the Our Father are said repeatedly and sometimes distractedly, but they are nevertheless an important component of the prayer life of the Church. The Catechism states, “The Tradition of the Church proposes to the faithful certain rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer” (2698). Vocal prayer is an essential element of the Christian life. When we’re vigilant and attentive during vocal prayer, we are engaging in the rhythm of the Church. As we make an effort to say our prayers fervently, the Lord blesses and nourishes our relationship with him.
- This Is How You Are to Pray: Reciting the Our Father can lift our hearts, since Jesus prays with and for us to God our Father. The experience can lead us to profound gratitude. Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name: thank you, God and Creator, for loving us as your children and allowing us to call you “Father.” Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven: Thank you, Jesus, for including us in your Kingdom here on earth and for sending your Holy Spirit to guide us to heaven. Give us this day our daily bread: Thank you, Jesus, for being truly present with us in the Eucharist. Forgive us our trespasses: Thank you, Lord, for your forgiveness every time we sin and for strengthening us against further sin through the sacrament of Reconciliation. As we forgive those who trespass against us: Thank you, Holy Spirit, who gives us the strength and desire to forgive others. Lead us not into temptation: Thank you, Lord, for the Church, which teaches us right from wrong and good from evil, and provides the sacraments so we can always choose right and good. But deliver us from evil: Thank you for the gift of our guardian angel and St. Michael to protect us and bring us safely home to you.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, thank you for teaching me how to pray. Thank you for showing me how to worship the Father and how to be his child. Grant me the grace to be more attentive at Mass and whenever I pray the Our Father so that I can offer my prayer with, in, and through you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pay special attention while I recite an Our Father, so that I can offer my heart and not just say these words.
For Further Reflection: Understanding Our Father, Biblical Reflections of the Lord’s Prayer by Scott Hahn.
Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic who seeks to make Jesus more loved through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, and motherhood, and as a writer, speaker, and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry located in San Antonio, Texas.