The Catholic Defender: The Lord's Prayer, The Model Prayer For All
The most recognizable prayer of all time is the “Our Father”, the great example that Jesus offers to His followers when asked how they should pray.
According to the Gospel of Luke 11:1-4, it states, “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.”
The Liturgical form of the Lord’s Prayer is taken from the Gospel of Matthew 6:9-13, the wording is slightly different from Luke’s version. Within the prayer there is the introduction, there are 7 petitions, and there is the doxology.
This prayer is offered at every Mass and is involved in most Catholic devotions. In it embodies all the necessities of life in which we are grateful.
The introduction: “Our Father, who art in heaven”
John 5:18 states, “For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God.” From the very beginning, when the angel Gabriel announced the coming of Jesus, St. Luke tells us, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” Luke 1:35
The Purpose for Jesus coming to earth was for our benefit, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” John 3:16
With the “Lord’s Prayer”, we are invited by Jesus to call God our Father. 1 John 3:1 states, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.”
As children of God, we are given access to the whole of Heaven. We are made partakers of the glory of God (John 17:22). We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who pray for us (Hebrew 12:1. Revelation 5:8. Revelation 8:3).
We are given the hope of eternal life that presently we cannot fathom (1 Corinthians 2:9).
First Petition: “Hallowed be thy name”
We look upon the name of God as being holy. At the call of Moses, God instructs Moses, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your Father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” The Name Yahweh is taken from this text where God told Moses, I am who am. God told Moses to tell the people, I Am sent him. (Exodus 3:5, 14)
St. Peter tells us, “Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-15
Hebrews 12:14 states, “Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord”.
The Saints in Heaven sing the glorious refrain, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come”. (Revelation 4:8) In the New Testament, they do not have words in the bible that denotes plurality such as Big, bigger, biggest. So if the writer want to make a strong point, saying, “Holy, holy, holy”, they are in effect saying God is the holiest.
Jesus is the “holy one, the true, who holds the key of David” (Revelation 3:7), whom by his power and authority as King (Daniel 7:13-15), gives the keys to his Royal Steward (Matthew 16:19).
Second Petition: “Thy kingdom come”
In the Nicene Creed we proclaim, “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.”
The Catholic Church has always proclaimed that Jesus will return at the Parousia, the Second Coming. Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”(Matthew 24:37-39)
At the end of St. John’s Book of Revelation, he exclaims, “The one who gives this testimony says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon’. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.” Revelation 22:20-21
There are multitudes of examples coming from both the Old and New Testaments relating to the return of Jesus on that great and glorious day.
Third Petition: “Thy will be done”
Jesus said, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” John 14:23 Jesus also states, “For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Matthew 12:5
John 6:40 is clear, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”
It is all about doing the will of the Lord, not our own will. Isaiah 55:8-9 states, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.”
This is not an easy concept for many people because we have lived under the “me” generation so long and we have principally lost or forsaken the lordship of Jesus in our lives. Jesus is truly Lord and Savior but we must surrender to do His Will in our lives.
Fourth Petition: “Give us this day our daily bread”
In the Old Testament, we learn of the “Bread of the Presence” also known as the “showbread” that was placed on the table before the Lord. This was placed within the tabernacle and later in the temple (Exodus 25:30).
Jesus identifies himself as the bread that comes down from heaven (John 6:34) and gives the importance that we receive this bread for everlasting life (John 6:52-59).
The table of the Lord used for the showbread in the Old Testament symbolized the table of the Lord that would bring God’s people together to participate in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 10:21). This bread that Jesus is talking about in the Lord’s Prayer is not only physical, but mostly spiritual.
In the Eucharist, we receive the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and through this Holy Communion, we become one with the Lord.
Fifth Petition: “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (or “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us”)
From the cross, Jesus cried,“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
This is the par excellence as the model for all Christians to follow in the area of forgiving. St. Pope John Paul II gave a great testimony to this act of forgiving when he forgave Mehmet Ali Ağca in his prison cell.
It was 13 May 1981 when Agca shot the Pope while moving through a large crowd at Vatican City. Many believe the Popes surviving the attempted assassination was of divine providence. The many prayers offered for the Pope, the prophecy of Fatima is possibly connected.
Jesus states, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus is clear that we must love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) and forgive those who persecute you (Romans 12:14-21).
We are to forgive seventy times seven which is an infinite amount of times. As often as someone has offended us, we are to forgive. This is different from the Confessional where Jesus forgives us sacramentally through His Priests.
Sixth Petition: “And lead us not into temptation”
Ezekiel 3:20 states, “If a virtuous man turns away from virtue and does wrong when I place a stumbling block before him, he shall die.” Now, there is an apparent view held by St. James, James 1:13 states, “No one experiencing temptation should say, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one.”
So why the apparent contradiction? It might be better understood if we see God allowing temptation only to strengthen us in the battle that belongs to the Lord. Revelation 3:10 states, “Because you have kept my message of endurance, I will keep you safe in the time of trial that is going to come to the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.”
While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus warned, “Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) It always seems that evil lurks in the darkness and we are challenged the most when the light is but a mere shadow. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
1 Timothy 4:7-9 is key to this question, “Avoid profane and silly myths. Train yourself for devotion, for, while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future.” This is the purpose, passion, and power that God wants to administer to his people making them truly children of God.
Seventh Petition: “But deliver us from evil”
I love the Rich Mullins song, My Deliverer that he wrote not long before his death. In it he sings, “Joseph took his wife and her child and they went to Africa To escape the rage of a deadly king. There along the banks of the Nile, Jesus listened to the song That the captive children used to sing, They were singing’ “My deliverer is coming, my deliverer is standing by, My deliverer is coming, my deliverer is standing by” Through a dry and thirsty land, water from the Kenyon heights Pours itself out of Lake Sangra’s broken heart There in the Sahara winds Jesus heard the whole world cry For the healing that would flow from His own scars The world was singing “My deliverer is coming, my deliverer is standing by My deliverer is coming, my deliverer is standing by”.
Jesus is our deliverer. He is capable of delivering us from all addictions, saving our souls for eternal life. He is setting the captives free.
Psalms 18:3 states, “Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold! Praise be the Lord, I exclaim! I have been delivered from my enemies.”
Doxology: “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen”
In the Catholic Liturgy, this doxology follows the priestly prayer, “Deliver us, Lord, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen” is an article of thanksgiving to God for the many blessings we do receive through our holy Catholic Faith.
Through the Church, we can place our total trust in the Lord: O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe these and all the truths which the holy Catholic Church teaches, because in revealing them you can neither deceive nor be deceived.