1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." 2 And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread; 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation."
Meditation: Do you pray with joy and confidence? The Jews
were noted for their devotion to prayer. Formal prayer was
prescribed for three set times a day. And the rabbis had a prayer
for every occasion. It was also a custom for rabbis to teach their
disciples a simple prayer they might use on a regular basis.
Jesus' disciples ask him for such a prayer. When Jesus taught his
disciples to pray he gave them the disciple's prayer, what we call
the Our Father or Lord's Prayer. (See longer
version in Matthew 6:9-13).
God treats us as his own sons and daughters
What does Jesus' prayer tell us about God and about ourselves? First, it tells us that God is both Father in being the Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything and transcendent authority, and he is eternally Father by his relationship to his only Son who, reciprocally is Son only in relation to his Father (Matthew 11:27). All fatherhood and motherhood is derived from him (Ephesians 3:14-15). In Jesus Christ we are reborn and become the adopted children of God (John 1:12-13; 3:3).
We can approach God confidently as a Father who loves us
Jesus teaches us to address God as "our Father" and to confidently ask him for the things we need to live as his sons and daughters. We can approach God our Father with confidence and boldness because Jesus Christ has opened the way to heaven for us through his death and resurrection. When we ask God for help, he fortunately does not give us what we deserve. Instead, he responds with grace and mercy. He is kind and forgiving towards us and he expects us to treat our neighbor the same.
We can pray with expectant faith and trust in the Father's goodness
We can pray with expectant faith because our heavenly Father truly loves each one of us and and he treats us as his beloved children. He delights to give us what is good. His love and grace transforms us and makes us like himself. Through his grace and power we can love and serve one another as Jesus taught - with grace, mercy, and loving-kindness.
Do you treat others as they deserve, or do you treat them as the Lord Jesus would with grace and mercy? Jesus' prayer includes an injunction (charge) that we must ask God to forgive us in proportion as we forgive those who have wronged us (Matthew 6:14-15). God's grace frees us from every form of anger, resentment, envy, and hatred. Are you ready to forgive others as the Lord Jesus forgives you?
3 be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; hearken to my cry of supplication.
9 All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things, you alone are God.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: The privilege and responsibility of calling God Father, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
"For the Savior said, 'When you pray, say, 'Our Father.' And
another of the holy Evangelists adds, 'who art in heaven' (Matthew
6:9)... He gives his own glory to us. He raises slaves to the
dignity of freedom. He crowns the human condition with such honor
as surpasses the power of nature. He brings to pass what was
spoken of old by the voice of the psalmist: 'I said, you are gods,
and all of you children of the Most High' (Psalm 82:6). He rescues
us from the measure of slavery, giving us by his grace what we did
not possess by nature, and permits us to call God 'Father,' as
being admitted to the rank of sons. We received this, together
with all our other privileges, from him. One of these privileges
is the dignity of freedom, a gift peculiarly befitting those who
have been called to be sons. He commands us, therefore, to take
boldness and say in our prayers, 'Our Father.'"(excerpt
from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 71)