The Church’s saints have always recognized that the Lord’s Prayer is a summary of his whole Gospel. And each word and phrase in the prayer is a rich source for us to contemplate and reflect on.
This is the approach I’ve been trying to take in these recent columns. I’ve been trying to spend time thinking and praying over the words that Jesus gave us to pray — asking what these words mean for our relationship with God and our life of faith in the world.
From the first word of this prayer — “our” — we reject the selfishness and individualism that is part of our human nature.
The Lord’s Prayer teaches that we are all brothers and sisters, children born of a Father in heaven. This makes our time on earth a kind of pilgrimage, a journey of returning back to the Father, following in the footsteps of his Son.
We speak to our Father directly, personally. We pray for the grace to glorify his holy name, to seek his Kingdom and to know and do his will. We pray to move towards his voice, to open our hearts to his loving plan for our lives and for creation.
We say: Hallowed be thy name. Because God’s name is who he is. And God is holy. In giving us his name, in creating us in his image and showing us his face in Jesus, our Father calls us to share in his holiness: “Be holy because I am holy.”
So we pray to answer his call, to glorify his holy name through the way we live — through our words and actions, our attitudes and desires.
We need to always remember — holiness is not something only for special people. Holiness is accepting God’s gifts and graces and living the way that he calls us to live — with love and compassion for others. Our Father wants to sanctify his creation — to fill the world with the light of his love, to make his holy name known and glorified in every heart and in every nation. He wants to do that through us.
Jesus teaches us to pray to be more deeply involved in God’s project of redemption, to invest our lives in the service of this plan. So we pray, Thy kingdom come.
The kingdom is the message, the good news that Jesus brings into the world by his life, death and Resurrection. The Kingdom has come in Jesus and it continues to grow through the ministry of his Church.
His kingdom is our mission. Jesus commanded: “Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness.”
We pray to work with him to accomplish his purposes. Thy kingdom come means we are working every day to overcome sin and injustice, to build a world that is more peaceful, more ruled by kindness and love and care for others.
But Jesus reminded us that his kingdom does not belong to this world. So we pray for prudence. May we never substitute our earthly visions and ambitions for the true kingdom that God wants to bring.
Jesus teaches us to pray first for what God wants for our lives and for the world. So we pray: Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
We are not expecting heaven on earth. But we pray to do our part to make this earth more like heaven. We pray to live by God’s Word, to build our lives on the solid rock of his divine teachings.
“This is the will of God: your holiness,” St. Paul said. So we pray again to become the people we are meant to be. We pray again to be holy as our Father is holy.
Thy will be done. It’s easy to say these words quickly, without thinking about what we are asking for.
Our natural instinct is to want to be in control of our lives. It is hard to “let go” and let someone else be in charge. The apostles knew this. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read: “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Thy will be done is an act of faith. We accept that God will for us may include hardship and loss, may even suffering and persecution.
But as the apostles and saints show us, God’s will is that we know happiness, joy and peace. So we pray to follow Jesus and to trust our Father as he did, making his will the way for our life.
This week, let’s pray for each other.
Let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us to know God’s will and to do it. And let’s ask for the strength and courage to accomplish our Father’s purposes, no matter what he sends our way in this life.