The Lord’s Prayer is a tremendous gift

by May Tam
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gensis 18:20 - 32

Colossians 2:12-14

Luke 11:1-13

Luke's and Matthew's (Mt 6:9-13) version of the Our Father are different. Although the Lucan version is shorter and less familiar, by setting it in the moment immediately after Jesus’ prayer, Luke presents three aspects of prayers that Jesus teaches His disciples.

  • Proper attitude of prayer (v1-4)
    The heart of a prayer is its preoccupation with God – our communication is with Him only, and our focus fixated on Him only. The Lord's Prayer is a perfect example of what Christian prayer should be. Characterized by its filial piety toward God the Father, it exhorts God's divinity and sovereignty over man, acknowledging Him as the one to whom we owe our daily sustenance. Petitions in prayer must be accompanied by reciprocal manner and action, in this case, the necessity of forgiving others as a condition of obtaining our own forgiveness from God.

  • Importance of persistence in prayer (v5-8)
    Jesus uses a parable to stress the significance of this aspect. The parable is similar to that of the “unjust judge” parable where Jesus tells His disciples to “always pray and not lose heart” (Lk 18:1-5). While perseverance in asking is commended, it should be accompanied by humble supplication and childlike trust of the providential plan. Avoid thoughtless and mechanical repetitions.

  • Effectiveness of prayer (v9-13)
    Sometimes it may appear that our prayers are not answered. This happens because God’s timing is not always the same as ours. He does not necessarily intervene immediately. But He certainly knows when and how to provide what is the best for us. By continually asking, seeking and knocking, we become more and more like the poor and lowly, which in turn makes our prayers more acceptable to God.

The Lord's Prayer is a tremendous gift for these are the very words of Jesus. By the invocations in first person plural (Our Father...give us...forgive us...deliver us), Jesus aligns His own prayer as the Son of God to the prayer of His disciples, allowing them to participate in His familial intimacy with God the Father. Whether it is prayed individually or communally, it helps to shape our hearts. Daring to call God “Father”, we are challenged to know what we pray, believe what we pray and live what we pray. Indeed, to do so is a privilege.