This Reflection was given on the Mt of Olives in Jerusalem. We were gathered on the Holy Site where our Lord taught His Disciples to pray.
We all say the Lord’s Prayer every day, several times a day. However, do we really think about what we are saying? It is possible for us to allow this beautiful prayer to become routine and miss the significance of it. After all, this is the only prayer that Our Lord taught to his disciples and he taught it so they would know how to pray.
We begin by saying, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” We are not only addressing Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth, we are addressing God who wants us to call Him Father. He is not just a distant God in heaven; He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to care for us as a father cares for his children and He wants us as children to approach Him often because we love Him.
We say, “…hallowed be thy name.” God is holy and His name is holy and we must speak it with reverence. We must give God praise and glory, acknowledging that all good things come from Him and that He holds all things in existence. To use God’s name in vain is a grave matter.
We say, “Thy kingdom come.” We are praying that the Kingdom of God be established on earth now. Jesus said, “Where ever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.” Mt. 18:20
Where ever Jesus is, the Kingdom of God is present and so we can facilitate the coming of the Kingdom by making Jesus present through are prayers and our witness. Almighty God could make His Kingdom come upon the earth in an instant if He wanted. However, it is His desire that His Kingdom come upon the earth through those who believe in Him.
We also say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God’s will is done perfectly in heaven and we are praying that it be done perfectly on earth. Our purpose for being on this earth is to do the will of God. God has a personal plan for each of us; it is called a vocation. It may be to the religious life, married life or single life. He has made it possible for us to discover this plan by giving us the gifts of faith, hope and charity as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit in baptism. When we live a life of faith, staying close to God we can reach our potential for happiness in this life and for all eternity as we discover His plan for us. Our Father’s will is done on earth when we each chose to be faithful to what He has revealed to us through the Scriptures and the Church.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” By bread we mean, all that we need. Truly, everything comes to us from God and He will give us what we need; maybe not all we want when we want it, but what we need. He wants us to turn to Him in every circumstance and to trust in His divine providence. No human has enough resources to escape the necessity to turn to God. He doesn’t want us to wait to turn to Him when we are in dire straits. He wants us to acknowledge that we need Him every day, all day and to be aware of His loving care. Certainly, He provides for us par excellence when we receive the “Living Bread,” Jesus Christ, body, blood soul and divinity.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In our prayer we place a condition on our own forgiveness; we ask God to forgive us in the same way we forgive others. This is to emphasize the importance of forgiveness. If we harbor any unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment or hatred in our hearts, then we ourselves become enslaved and separate ourselves from the love and mercy of God and lose hope.
“Lead us not into temptation.” God does not lead us into temptation, but He does allow us to be tempted to test our fidelity and give us opportunities to grow in virtue and spiritual maturity. We are asking God to give us the grace we need to avoid being overcome by the temptation.
“Deliver us from evil.” Every day we are involved in spiritual warfare. We have real enemies; Satan and those who have joined him. They have no power over us, but they know are weaknesses and how to seduce us. If we do not put on “The armor of God,” we leave ourselves vulnerable to their attacks. We have been given the sacraments as a source of the grace we need to overcome sin.