The Lord’s Prayer—also known as the Our Father prayer—is a basic, fundamental Catholic prayer that is beloved by Christians the world over. In the New Testament, it appears in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, and we pray the version from Matthew 6:9-13.
Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer during the Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount covers various aspects of the Christian life and is the most famous sermon that Jesus ever gave.
During this discourse, Jesus teaches us how we should pray—that we shouldn’t pray in order to impress others, and we shouldn’t think that we might be able to manipulate Him. Instead, we are to approach God simply and honestly, as a child would his father, being honest about our failures and our need for him.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us at length about the Our Father, which is part of the Church’s treasure of Catholic prayers. The following is just a sampling of its incredible richness:
“The Lord’s Prayer ‘is truly the summary of the whole gospel’ (Tertullian). ‘Since the Lord . . . after handing over the practice of prayer, said elsewhere, “Ask and you will receive,” and since everyone has petitions which are peculiar to his circumstances, the regular and appropriate prayer [the Lord’s Prayer] is said first, as the foundation of further desires’ (ibid.)”
And the old Baltimore Catechism gives us good instruction as well:
“The Our Father is the best of all prayers because it is the Lord’s Prayer, taught us by Jesus Christ Himself, and because it is a prayer of perfect and unselfish love. The Our Father Catholic prayer is a prayer of perfect and unselfish love because in saying it we offer ourselves entirely to God and ask from Him the best things, not only for ourselves but also for our neighbor.
“We address God as ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ because we belong to Him, our loving Father, who created us and watches over us, who adopts us through sanctifying grace as His children, and who destines us to live forever with Him in heaven, our true home.
“When we say ‘hallowed be Thy name,’ we pray that God may be known and honored by all men. ‘From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise’ (Psalm 112:3).
“When we say ‘Thy kingdom come,’ we pray that the kingdom of God’s grace may be spread throughout the world, that all men may come to know and to enter the true Church and to live as worthy members of it, and that, finally, we all may be admitted to the kingdom of God’s glory. ‘You therefore be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matthew 5:48).
“When we say ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ we pray that all men may obey God on earth as willingly as the saints and angels obey Him in heaven.
“When we say ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ we pray that God will give us each day all that is necessary to support the material life of our bodies and the spiritual life of our souls. ‘For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed’ (John 6:56).
“When we say ‘and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,’ we pray that God will pardon the sins by which we have offended Him, and we tell Him that we pardon our fellow men who have offended us. ‘For if you forgive men their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you your offenses. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your offenses’ (Matthew 6:14-15).
“When we say ‘and lead us not into temptation,’ we pray that God will always give us the grace to overcome the temptations to sin which come to us from the world, the flesh, and the devil. ‘Because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee’ (Tobias 12:13).
“When we say ‘but deliver us from evil,’ we pray that God will always protect us from harm, and especially from harm to our souls.’I do not pray that thou take them out of the world, but that thou keep them from evil’ (John 17:15).”
The Lord’s Prayer may very well be the most popular Christian prayer ever. It is often used in church services and Christian schools, as well as in Bible study groups and individual prayer times. An estimated 2 billion people–almost a third of the world’s population–pray or sing the Lord’s Prayer on Easter Sunday every year!
This is a prayer of hope which reminds you that God is approachable and that praying is something anyone can do.
The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father)
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. Amen.
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