Dear Brothers and Sisters,
What are we actually praying for when we say the Lord’s Prayer? What are the seven petitions that are raised in the prayer?
(1)The Our Father begins with the desire that the honor and glory of God is our first intention regardless of our particular circumstances or needs in that moment. Specifically, we hold God’s name as sacred. We are not praying to an abstract or impersonal God. Jesus reveals God as “Abba” or “Father.” Although some may struggle with this masculine title, it is offered by Christ and places us in relationship to the First Person of the Holy Trinity.
(2) Next, we pray for God’s Kingdom to be present and
(3) that His will be done here on earth while it is simultaneously and perfectly being fulfilled by the heavenly powers. Let’s not waste God’s time, or our own, if we’re not sincere about invoking God’s will. Anything contrary to it cannot be honored.
(4) We then move into specific petitions that we need. “Our daily bread” is a petition for the nourishment required to live our daily discipleship. Both Eucharistic bread and basic essentials are implied. It’s not about superfluous things we may want; it’s about knocking on God’s door for the necessities in order to sustain us.
(5) The prayer continues with helping us to forgive others when they hurt us. This may be the most demanding part of the prayer and yet there it is. In order to be forgiven we need to forgive others. Who said discipleship was easy?
(6) And then we pray with the acknowledgement that temptation is difficult to overcome at times.
(7) Finally, we offer a little exorcism. From the Greek language, the prayer translates that we be “delivered from the Evil One” as opposed to the Latin-English translation of being delivered “from evil.” Either way, the petition is to be protected against Satan and all who seek ruin upon our souls. Interesting that this is the way the Lord ends the prayer.
As for the doxology, “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory….” this is not part of our Catholic version because it can’t be traced back to the earliest scriptural translations. However, we pray it later on at Mass because it does hold a special place within our tradition, tracing back to usage among some of the early Churches (as evidenced in an early Church text called the Didache).
So, next time we’re praying this prayer together or by ourselves, the Our Father captures the essentials for daily life. This is why it is offered throughout each day, in our liturgies and in our devotions.
In Name of Our Father,
THE EUCHARIST CHALLENGES US TO RECOGNIZE AND CONFRONT STRUCTURES OF SIN
The Risen Christ in the Eucharist acts as “a compelling force for inner renewal, an inspiration to change the structures of sin in which individuals, communities and at times entire peoples are entangled” (St. John Paul II, Dies Domini [On Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy], no. 73). These structures include racism, violence, injustice, poverty, exploitation, and all other systemic degradation of human life or dignity. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, our “fraternal communion” in the Eucharist leads to “a determination to transform unjust structures and to restore respect for the dignity of all men and women, created in God’s image and likeness” (Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis [Sacrament of Charity], no. 89). What one concrete example of how my life in the Eucharist is calling me to confront personal sin and a sinful presence in society?