In this last segment on prayer, we conclude as does the Catechism of the Catholic Church by looking briefly at the prayer that Jesus Himself taught us: The Lord’s Prayer.
In introducing The Lord’s Prayer, the catechism characterizes it as “The Summary of the Whole Gospel.” As a summary, this prayer is understood as containing the fullness God’s loving plan that is fulfilled in Christ and promised to us. Through the praying of the Lord’s Prayer, “daring” as we do to call God “Our Father,” right and humble praise is given to the Father by us as His adopted children, and our pleading for what He promises both now and for all of eternity is voiced in its petitions. In these ways, it is a perfect prayer as it lacks nothing of what ought to be asked in prayer. In addition, it is a prayer that expresses true filial relationship, helping us to desire to be like He whom we call “Father” and developing within us a humble and trusting heart like that of children.
The catechism goes on to break down each part of The Lord’s Prayer, with specific explanation of what are shown to be its “seven petitions.” Within the seven, the first three are directed toward the Father’s glory with the latter four focused upon seeking God’s grace in our weakness. In each of these petitions, the virtue of humility is to be at work, that God himself can bring about in us and for us that which is true. The seven petitions are:
“Hallowed by thy name”: wherein we proclaim the holiness of His name – that we ourselves might become holy.
“Thy Kingdom come”: which invokes both a desire for the glorious second coming of Christ and for the life of His grace to come among us and within us here and now (like how Jesus says in Luke 17:21 that the Kingdom of God is among you.”)
“Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven”: where we seek to surrender our human will to living His will with the help of His grace.
“Give us this day our daily bread”: is both a plea for entrusting our needs to Him, and more particularly [and more significantly] it pleads for the sustenance given in the Eucharist onto eternal life.
“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”: calls us to surrender our wounds to the Lord, letting go of them so as to know forgiveness in our lives and to be able to forgive others.
“And lead us not into temptation”: this statement does not imply that God tempts, but it asks for His aid to choose the true and holy, helping us not give into temptation, while praying also for perseverance in faith in this life to the very end.
“But deliver us from evil”: or from the “evil one,” the enemy of our souls, that we would be freed from all evils.
Surely this very brief summary only scratches the surface of the depth and power of The Lord’s Prayer – (and it also risks reducing the significance of this prayer to only what is presented here). Therefore, you are encouraged to take some time to go through the listed paragraphs of the Catechism found at the bottom of this column to enter more deeply into this prayer – minding especially that God loves us as His sons and daughters. Having been given this prayer, we have received an incredible gift to call Him “Father.” May we not be afraid to call upon our Father who loves us more than any words here could describe.
For further reading: In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 2759 – 2865 is a beautiful commentary and teaching on what is given in the Lord’s Prayer.