Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” (Lk 11:1)
That is something that I hear quite often and, admittedly, something I think quite often. “If only…”
If only I could have been alive at the time of the Lord. If only I could have heard His words. If only I could have asked Him questions.
Christians are full of “if onlys” for the Lord.
We see that sentiment even in today’s gospel. The apostles must have been thinking, “If only He would teach us a prayer just like all the other rabbis teach prayers to their followers.”
Indeed, that part was true. Other rabbis would teach their disciples certain ways to pray. Those prayers would form the disciples into the kinds of students the rabbis wanted them to be.
Jesus’ response was much wider than the typical prayer. He immediately pointed to His Father in heaven, praising Him and blessing Him. Then, He acknowledged that it was God’s Kingdom for which they longed and God’s will which needed to be fulfilled.
From that, the disciples were instructed to ask for whatever it was that they needed in order to fulfill God’s will for them. Part of God’s will was for them to live as a reconciled people: “forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us”.
The Our Father, then, is a prayer that directs our thoughts to God but keeps us rooted firmly on earth. It reminds us of the need to forgive for we ask God to forgive us just as we forgive others. It is a powerful prayer and one that should not be said merely by rote but with great thought and attention.
FAITH ACTION: Prayerfully and reflectively recite the Our Father. Think about what it means to you and what challenge it may give you for this day.