A Son’s Prayer

Matthew 6: 7-15
2 Cor 11: 1-11 / Psa 111

…if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.
(Matthew 6:15)

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.

“In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him. Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father Who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Do not bring us to the test, but deliver us from evil.’ If you forgive others their wrongs, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6: 7-15)

Reflection

The Our Father was meant to be prayed as an intimate form of communication to a loving Father from His children. Jesus did not mean for us to pray it like a “formula prayer”, which we should memorize word for word. Instead, He seemed to be saying, ‘Pray like this, in your own words,’ so that it does not become mindlessly repetitive (as most of us pray it, unfortunately). 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. 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. We must realize what a special privilege this is, because those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ do not have any right to call God their Father, as they are not His adopted children, having no kinship with Jesus. Non-believers are not His brothers.

At the same time, Jesus taught us that we must also give reverence to God as the King of the universe. He is the Ruler of our lives; thus we must subjugate our will to His will, and trust in all His plans for us. 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). Standing or kneeling before such Majestic Power, how then can we allow our mind to wander, as we rattle off our memorized prayer before dozing off to sleep, or dashing off to work? It is with an attitude of deep reverence for His Holy Name that we should approach God in prayer, placing ourselves in His holy Presence, and never allowing our mind to be diverted by other concerns or vain thoughts.

Jesus taught us to put God’s concerns first before our petitions. “Hallowed be Thy Name” means we pray that His Name be holy forever. “Thy kingdom come” means we dedicate our lives for the glory of his kingdom. “Thy will be done” means we desire all our plans in life to conform to His will. Then we pray for our “daily bread” acknowledging God 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, revere and adore You as our heavenly Father and King. Amen.

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