The Best Way to Pray


Luke 11: 1-4
Jon 4: 1-11 / Psa 86

Lord, teach us to pray . . .
(Luke 11:1)

For forgiveness and daily bread,
And for protection from harm’s way;
Since we don’t know what lies ahead,
So pray Our Father every day.

One day, Jesus was praying in a certain place. When He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who sins against us. And do not subject us to the final test.’” (Luke 11:1-4)

Reflection

With just a few short, simple sentences, our Lord gave us the complete formula not only for our essential needs, but more importantly for building a loving relationship with God, His Father. First of all, saying “Our Father” indicated that Jesus intended this prayer to be a personal as well as communal worship. First, God as our father cannot refuse the prayer of His children. “If you who are sinful can give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” (Mt.7:11) When I overheard our daughter telling my wife her financial problems, I immediately headed for a nearby ATM. Her face lighted up as I handed her an amount she never even asked for. Secondly, as Jesus reminded us, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst” (Mt.18:20). We were at the airport flying home after our Leaders’ Retreat when we saw an elderly brother on a wheelchair. His wife said he had been ill for a few days, so I asked her if we could pray over him for God’s healing. Unmindful of the crowd in the airport, we fervently prayed together for her husband’s healing; in our compassion for him, we believed he would be healed because of the Father’s greater compassion.

Together in prayer, we make holy (hallowed be) the Name of our Father, so that we, His children may also be set apart from sin. By according Him the respect and honor that His holiness inspires, we are also made holy. (We note that many men in our prayer community no longer swear or profane the name of the Lord.) “Your kingdom come” is the part of the prayer where we ask God to manifest His reign in our hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit, and of His Word in Scriptures, by which we strive to make the standard in our life. When we say, Give us each day our daily bread, we recall how God provided manna to the Israelites in the desert (Ex.16:15-21). Jesus wants us to receive Him daily as well in the Holy Eucharist. He also wants us to depend on His Father every day for all our needs. As He assures us, “Do not worry… your heavenly father knows that you need them all” (Mt.6:32).

I believe the most important part of the Lord’s Prayer is when we pray, “Forgive us our sins”, because from the very start of His ministry, Jesus had always preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Just as we need to ask for our needs on a daily basis, we also need to pray continually for God’s forgiveness in order to draw ourselves farther away from our former sinful ways. But the road to perfection is not only in receiving God’s forgiveness, but also in “forgiving everyone who sins against us.” Our forgiveness must surely depend on our forgiving. “If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions” (Mt.6:14-15). And lastly, we ask God, “do not subject us to the final test.” Only our Lord Jesus passed the final test, but He knew that we must all persevere in life’s trials if we are to merit the Father’s kingdom. As we pray this beautiful prayer that our Lord taught us, let us meditate with the Holy Spirit’s guidance and grace.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for teaching us how to pray. Through Your prayer, we have been drawn into a more personal relationship with Your Father, our Father in heaven. Amen.

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