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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.

Mathew 6:9-13

Our Father

Any talk of prayer would be incomplete without a mention of the OurFather, a prayer which holds pride of place among all other prayers.When the disciples said to Jesus "Lord, teach us to pray", this iswhat He taught them. Therefore, it is a precious gift from OurSaviour to us and we should treasure it as such. A good way to praythe Our Father is to imagine Jesus standing beside you, perhapsholding your hand, or with His arm about you. The fact that theprayer starts off with "Our Father" and not "My Father" is anindication that we are not alone when we pray this prayer. It isthrough what Jesus accomplished for us that we have been adopted aschildren of the Father and in this prayer, we can go to the Father, accompanied by Jesus.

If we fully realised what a privilege this is,to be able to call God (the creator of the universe) our father, wewould spend our whole lives giving thanks for it. In fact, whenSt. Francis used to pray the "Our Father", he was so overwhelmed bythis fact, that he often got no further than to say the words "Our Father" and to stay with that, in love and adoration.

So, together with the Lord, we come to make the seven petitions whichmake up this prayer. The first three, being praise of the Father andHis Will, enable us to enter into Jesus' own praise of the Father. Itis the right order in prayer, to start with praise of God, and it is the way that Jesus Himself prayed, blessing the Father before Heperformed many of His miracles (i.e. multiplication of the loaves).The last four petitions are interceding with Jesus, who Scripture tells us "always lives to make intercession" 21for those who draw near to God through Him. "Give us this day ourdaily bread". Here we ask in faith for the Bread of Life. Jesus has said: "I am the Bread of Life" 22. As we say "our" daily bread we also ask that He would provide for all His children; we do not come before Him alone.

When we say, "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgivethose who trespass against us", we bring to mind the great necessityof forgiveness. We are all God's children and He loves us dearly,without favourites. Therefore, we must love each other and forgiveeach other. The ball is put back in our court, by the second clause"as we forgive"! We must take responsibility for the lack offorgiveness in our own hearts. However, sometimes when we have beenbadly hurt, we may feel that we can never forgive. There is truth inthe saying "to err is human; to forgive is divine". We cannot forgivefrom the heart without the grace of God. It is very important tobring these situations to the Lord in prayer, so that His grace mayflow freely and bring healing. We may not feel that we can approachthe person who has hurt us, but we can always pray for them andforgive them in our hearts. As St. Peter says, "Never pay back one wrong with another, or an angry word with another one; instead, pay back with a blessing. That is what you are called to do, so that you inherit a blessing yourself" 23. We are told in St. Luke to "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly" 24. In this way, God's power can work in their hearts too, to bring about healing.

"And lead us not into temptation". We are all prone to temptation and there are forces at work which seek to tempt us constantly, especially nowadays. That is why we need the grace of Jesus to help us. We are told that He was "tempted in every way that we are" 25 and we know that when He was in the desert for 40 days, He did battle with the devil, resisted his temptations and that He was the victor. In this prayer, we ask for the grace that He won there to be operative in our lives.

For those who would like to explore this wonderful prayer in greater depth, the treatment of it in Part 4 of the Catechism (No.'s 2777 - 2865) is well worth reading.

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