September 01, 2023
As we focus on praying as a family, this month, we look at the Lord’s Prayer, better known to Catholics as the “Our Father”. This prayer comes to us directly from Jesus when He was asked by His disciples “Lord, teach us to pray.” We find two versions of the prayer in the Bible in Luke 11:2-4 and Matthew 6:9-13. The form we pray in the Catholic Church is closest to the prayer in Matthew’s Gospel. The “Our Father” is part of Jesus’ great Sermon on the Mount, where He taught the Beatitudes and many parables. Let’s break down the meaning of this divinely inspired prayer.
Our Father, Who art in heaven
God is our heavenly Father and is all-knowing and all-powerful. Calling God ‘our father’ reminds us that God doesn’t save us as individuals, but as a people, and we are all brothers and sisters in His family. We are reminded to treat everyone as a child of God.
Hallowed be Thy Name
Hallowed means holy and we recognize not only God Himself as holy, but also recognize His name as holy and powerful. When we call on the name of God, we are calling on all power in heaven and on earth, and that’s why He asks us not to take His name in vain. We offend God when we use His name in anger or to curse others because it is so holy.
Thy Kingdom come
Here we ask for the Kingdom of God to be a part of our everyday life, our family, our work, our leisure time….everything. As we live each day in the Kingdom of God, we also wait with great hope for the return of Jesus at the end of time.
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven
We want to conform our will to God’s will and do what is pleasing to our Father, just as we are called to obedience to and to honor our earthly parents. We are asked to do God’s will even when it’s hard, like giving up an extra half hour of sleep to have time to pray every day, or checking in on an elderly neighbor after work, when we are tired from the day.
Give us this day our daily bread
Everything comes from God, and by asking Him to sustain us daily, we acknowledge that. Even more, it’s implied for us not to be anxious about tomorrow. We can count on our Father to provide for our daily needs not just physically, but spiritually through the Bread of Life, the Eucharist.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us
For most of us, it is easy to ask God to forgive us our trespasses or sins, but God says we must also forgive those who have hurt us. We can ask God to be merciful and forgive our sins but if we’re holding a grudge or refuse to forgive someone who has hurt us, He will only forgive us in the way we forgive others. If you can’t forgive someone, ask God to give you the strength to do it.
And lead us not into temptation,
Temptation and sin are closely related. We need God’s grace and help to resist the little temptations that come along daily and the big temptations that come along when we are at our weakest. But why would God lead us into temptation as the prayer seems to say? As with all evil, God is not the source of it. He is not the source of temptations, but He allows evil and temptation since He created us with free will. God always brings good out of evil, so temptations and overcoming them can bring us to holiness.
But deliver us from evil.
We have a spiritual enemy, the devil, and evil is a reality in our world. The devil is intelligent and works to find ways to try to steer us from the right path to the wrong one. The devil’s goal is to keep us from being holy and living with God forever in Heaven. But, we can rejoice that God is more powerful and Jesus has already won the battle over death, and we have a God who can protect us from the devil.
Some Ideas on Praying the “Our Father” as a Family
- Pray it together at dinner time or bedtime.
- Pray it in the car as you head to soccer, school, or gymnastics.
- Teach it in short segments:
- Parent: Our Father who art in ________
- Child: Heaven
- Parent: Hallowed be thy _______
- Child: Name
- Sit in a circle and pray one line and then pass it on to the next person.
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.
Written by: Birgitt Hacker