The Perfect Prayer

Matthew 6: 7-15
Isa 55: 10-11 / Psa 34

Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.
(Matthew 6: 8)

Pray the ‘Our Father’ every day,
That all the world’s conflicts may cease;
As Jesus has shown us the way,
Let’s pray it constantly for peace.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:7-15).

Reflection

Our Lord taught us this prayer in order that we may seek to have a closer personal relationship with His Father. The first word, “Our” denotes unity with all of God’s children, as well as with His Beloved Son. That single word brings the Supreme Being, Creator of the Universe to us as a loving, caring Father. And so we ask Him each day to sustain and nourish us, not only with food on the table, but with the Body of His Son in the Eucharistic meal. More importantly, we also say this prayer for peace. But we cannot have true peace unless we are penitent of our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness (knowing the gravity of His sacrifice for their remission), and pledge to likewise forgive those who wrong us, so that we may be considered worthy to be His children.

Jesus presented God to His disciples as a personal, loving Father, in contrast to the common perception of the Jews at that time, who viewed Yahweh God as a distant authority figure, awesome and severe, who only communicated with their prophets. This was how the pagan religions worshipped their gods, to whom some of them even sacrificed their own kind to win favors or answers to their prayers. To the Jews at that time, this teaching of Jesus must have seemed too radical, even bordering on blasphemy. But Jesus taught with such authority that His disciples followed His example, and the whole Christian world is the better for it. Thus, when we pray to God, we should feel His presence like a father near his child.

At the same time, Jesus also taught us that we must acknowledge God as the King of all creation. He is the Ruler of our lives; thus we must subjugate our will to His will, and trust in all His plans for us. (“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”) He is the Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power” (1 Tim. 6:15-16).

It is with an attitude of deep reverence for His Holy Name that we should approach God in prayer. That is why Jesus taught us to say, “Hallowed be Thy Name” (or “May Your Name be holy forever”). In this respect we must place ourselves in His holy Presence.

Finally, Jesus taught us that we have to acknowledge God our Father as our Divine Provider, on Whom we depend for everything we need. In this way we are humbling ourselves, and putting our life totally under His care. For indeed our food and all our material needs come from Him; the forgiveness of our sins comes from Him (even our capacity to forgive others comes from Him); and our protection from the snares of the evil one comes from Him. If we can meditate on all of these lessons that Jesus has taught us while we are praying to the Father, then we have made it a perfect prayer.

Dear God, grant that we may honor Your Name in the words that we speak, and follow Your will in everything we set out to do, following the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has taught us the way to love and adore You as our Father. Amen.

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