Jesus taught us how to pray because he is one with God he is perfect and taught us perfect prayer.
It begins with “We dare to say Our Father”. We begin with; “Our Father”. Only through the spirit of God’s son would we as mortals dare to call upon God as Father. It is only Jesus who knows the Father and through him we humbly and with pure hearts can call God, “Our Father”. Through Jesus He is revealed to us as Father. It is through the Lord’s Prayer that brings us into a communion with God the Father and God the Son. Praying to our father develops in us the will to become like him. When we pray “our” Father we are invoking the new covenant with Jesus, communion with the Trinity which spreads through the Church to the whole world. “Who art in heaven” does not mean a place. It is a way of being. It is not distant. It is saying that we are God’s temples and heaven is in us through the mystery of the covenant when we pray to our Father. Sin exiles us from the covenant. But by saying the Our Father, we are brought back to heaven and to being God’s temples.
Saint Augustine wrote:“Our Father who art in heaven” is rightly understood to mean that God is in the hearts of the just and in his holy temple. At the same time it means that those who pray should desire the one they invoke to dwell in them.
The rest of the Our Father is made of the 7 petitions. The first three draw us to the glory of God the Father. The last four are a call for his help to bestow grace and forgiveness upon us.
1. Hallowed be thy name is spoken in the sense of recognizing that God is holy. Holy means perfect and pure. In some sense it can be praise and thanksgiving. But in another sense it is a petition or desire in which God and Man are involved. This expression is taught to us as an expectation that God and Man be immersed in the drama of our salvation. We are drawn into his plan that we may be made holy. When I say this I recall that I love God with my whole heart, my whole mind, my whole soul and with all my strength.(Mark 12:30)
2. Thy Kingdom Come. The kingdom of God is all that the bible tells us about God. It is the heavens and the universe including us. We are a part of the kingdom of God. When we call for his kingdom to come we call upon the end of time and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon us. We call for righteousness and peace and joy to fill the earth and for God’s desire for our salvation to be fulfilled.
3. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice to do God’s will on earth. We pray that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, God’s will, for our salvation, will be fulfilled. Jesus taught us that to enter the kingdom of heaven we must do God’s will, not by our words but by our actions. In praying we ask God to help us do his will.
4. Give us this day our daily bread. “Give us” are the words of children to their father. God gives to all the living their food in due season. We glorify our Father by acknowledging how good he is. “Give us” also expresses the covenant with him, that he is the Father of all men. As Catholics we believe everything we have comes from God. It also refers to the Eucharist as our daily bread. The daily Mass, the Readings, and Hymns heard and sung each day in church are also our Daily Bread.
5. And forgive us our trespasses. We ask God to make us holy. We are free of original sin but we do not cease to sin to turn away from God. Now we admit our failings and through Christ we have the hope of forgiveness.
6. As we forgive those who trespass against us. “We must be perfect as the father is.” (Mathew 5:48) “Be merciful as the Father is merciful.” (Luke6:36)And “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John13:34) During the course of our lives we engage those who do us wrong. Can we forgive even the worst of these?
7. And lead us not into temptation. In the battle between flesh and spirit we implore God to give us strength. We must discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. We pray to God to not consent to temptation. But deliver us from evil. “I am not asking you to take them from the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.” (John 17. 15). We pray to God to show forth the victory of Christ over satan the ruler of this world, the angel personally opposed to God’s Plan of salvation.
This explanation of the Our Father is excerpted from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. To read the full understanding of the Our Father as defined by the Catholic Church begin at paragraph 2777 and read through paragraph 2865. This may be accessed on line in the Resources box, Searchable Catholic Catecism on the right side of this website.