‘Our Father’ – Understanding The Lord’s Prayer in General


The Lord’s Prayer among all other prayers holds a chief place. It has five excellent qualities which are requires in all prayer.  A prayer must be confident, ordered, suitable, devout and humble.[1]  The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer of the Christian people, the people of God and the fulfilment of Israel. Christians emerging form a Jewish background would have no problem in saying Our Father, God of Our people. This prayer of Jesus to His Father is radical and foundational prayer for us.  It places us in the awareness that we are nothing without God, and do nothing without God’s sovereign will.[2]  The prayer then has been called many things: the Pater Noster, the Our Father, and the Model Prayer. It is a prayer of paramount importance. It is the centrepiece of the “most famous sermon ever preached”- the Sermon on the Mount. Not only this is the most famous sermon, it is also the first we find Jesus’ preaching when we read the Gospel. The Lord’s Prayer reflects Jesus’ deepest preoccupation on earth: talking with His father. It moves smoothly from there to His second deepest preoccupation: making His Father our Father too, enabling us to share His intimate conversation, which is constant and habitual. Without a doubt, the Lord’s Prayer is more than a sudden inspiration on Jesus’ part. It is a long awaited gift.  Indeed, this prayer is itself an answer to a sustained request on the part of humanity: “Lord, teach to pray” (Lk 11: 1).[3]  The Lord’s Prayer is unified, compact, model prayer consisting of seven petitions, divisible into two parts: the first “God – ward the second “us- ward”. The first part is clearly “ God-ward,”  focused on “ Thy  name,” thy Kingdom,” Thy will”, the second half  however turns attention to us and our needs: “give us,”  “forgive us,” “ lead us,”  “deliver us.[4]  The Lord’s prayer, as used by a Christian who is conscious of his or her pilgrimage to the eventual promised land, celebrates the great beginning of that pilgrimage when, in baptism, that individual is united with Christ in his death and resurrection. The Christian is called to make the Lord’s Prayer paradigmatic in his or her own personal life.[5]

[1] https://www.ewtn.com/library/sources/ta-cat-4.txt
[2] Ayo Nicholas, The Lord’s prayer; A survey Theological and Literary (Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Lanham, 1992), p. 26.
[3] Hahn Scott, Understanding: “Our Father”: Biblical Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer (Steubenville: Emmaus Road Publishing, 2002), p.  4.
[4] Hahn Scott, Understanding: “Our Father”: Biblical Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, p. 5.
[5] http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Christian_Prayer.htm

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