Prayer is an absolutely essential part of the Christian life. A Christian who does not pray is like a body that does not breathe—dead. There are a number of places in the Gospels where Jesus addresses prayer. One of the most important is in the Gospel for this Sunday, from the 11th chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke. 

Seeing Jesus at prayer, some of His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. He then taught them the Our Father, or the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer is so important to the life of the Church that in the early Church document known as the Didache, followers of Jesus were taught to pray this prayer three times a day—morning, midday, and evening. The Church does this as part of it official liturgical prayer each day—Morning Prayer, the Mass, and Evening Prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer is not just a prayer to be memorized and recited. It is an entire school of prayer. Each phrase, each word, teaches us something about prayer. In the past, I have given a 7-week series of talks on just the Lord’s Prayer. That is how rich it is in explaining to us what it means to have a relationship with God and how we are to grow in that relationship.

Rather than just reciting the Lord’s Prayer, take some time with it. Begin with just the words, “Our Father.”  What does it mean to call God our Father? Why did Jesus use the father as the primary image that He would use to describe God to us? What does a father do? Also, if God is not just my Father, but our Father, who do I think is included in that word “our”? Certainly, it includes other Christians. But what about Muslims, or Hindus, or Jews, or any of the other many religions as well? Is the God who is my Father, also their Father?

Think about the words, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” What does that little word “as” mean? Do I really forgive those who have trespassed against me? Will God forgive me if I will not forgive?

We are not only to pray the Our Father. We are also to pray about the Our Father and learn who the God we serve really is, and how to have a relationship with Him.
–Fr. Mike Comer