Fr. Ron Millican
THE PRAYER TO BEGIN ALL PRAYER: THE LORD’S PRAYER, 1
Jesus “was praying in a certain place,” Luke tells us in his Gospel, “and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, 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 indebted to us.
And do not bring us to the time of trial."
Sound familiar? This is what is commonly called the “Lord’s Prayer,” that is, the prayer that the Lord, Jesus, taught his disciples. It is often referred to as the “Our Father,” after the first two words. This version, from the Gospel of Luke (11:2-4), is only one biblical version. The Gospel of Matthew (6:9-13) is the basis of the version said by most people today:
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 trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
Two things to note: (1) many churches continue the prayer with, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.” (2) Many churches pray the line about forgiveness like this, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”
A different version aside, this little prayer is the most important thing Jesus said about prayer. It is a model, one that we can pray. It also teaches nearly everything Jesus wanted to teach about prayer.
St. Augustine of Hippo commented: “Run through all the words of holy prayers (in scripture), and I do not think you will find anything in them that is not contained in the Lord’s Prayer.”
A famous nineteenth-century Protestant preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, put it this way: “I used to think the Lord’s Prayer was a short prayer; but as I live longer and see more of life, I begin to believe there is no such thing as getting through it. If a man, in praying that prayer, were to be stopped by every word until he had thoroughly prayed it, it would take him a lifetime.”
Well, I am not going to take a lifetime to walk through this prayer with you. But still I hope that you come to appreciate the fact that it is the “mother” of all prayers.
To be continued ….