THE LORD’S PRAYER
This section is taken from the Catechism of Catholic Church.
“THE SUMMARY OF THE WHOLE GOSPEL”2761 The Lord’s Prayer “is truly the summary of the whole gospel.”7 ”Since the Lord . . . after handing over the practice of prayer, said elsewhere, ‘Ask and you will receive,’ and since everyone has petitions which are peculiar to his circumstances, the regular and appropriate prayer [the Lord's Prayer] is said first, as the foundation of further desires.”8
Run through all the words of the holy prayers [in Scripture], and I do not think that you will find anything in them that is not contained and included in the Lord’s Prayer.92763 All the Scriptures – the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms – are fulfilled in Christ.10 The Gospel is this “Good News.” Its first proclamation is summarized by St. Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount;11 the prayer to our Father is at the center of this proclamation. It is in this context that each petition bequeathed to us by the Lord is illuminated:
The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers. . . . In it we ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should desire them.122764 The Sermon on the Mount is teaching for life, the Our Father is a prayer; but in both the one and the other the Spirit of the Lord gives new form to our desires, those inner movements that animate our lives. Jesus teaches us this new life by his words; he teaches us to ask for it by our prayer. The rightness of our life in him will depend on the rightness of our prayer.
2765 The traditional expression “the Lord’s Prayer” - oratio Dominica - means that the prayer to our Father is taught and given to us by the Lord Jesus. The prayer that comes to us from Jesus is truly unique: it is “of the Lord.” On the one hand, in the words of this prayer the only Son gives us the words the Father gave him:13 he is the master of our prayer. On the other, as Word incarnate, he knows in his human heart the needs of his human brothers and sisters and reveals them to us: he is the model of our prayer.
2766 But Jesus does not give us a formula to repeat mechanically.14 As in every vocal prayer, it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God to pray to their Father. Jesus not only gives us the words of our filial prayer; at the same time he gives us the Spirit by whom these words become in us “spirit and life.”15 Even more, the proof and possibility of our filial prayer is that the Father “sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”16 Since our prayer sets forth our desires before God, it is again the Father, “he who searches the hearts of men,” who “knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”17 The prayer to Our Father is inserted into the mysterious mission of the Son and of the Spirit.
2767 This indivisible gift of the Lord’s words and of the Holy Spirit who gives life to them in the hearts of believers has been received and lived by the Church from the beginning. The first communities prayed the Lord’s Prayer three times a day,18 in place of the “Eighteen Benedictions” customary in Jewish piety.
[The Lord] teaches us to make prayer in common for all our brethren. For he did not say “my Father” who art in heaven, but “our” Father, offering petitions for the common body.19
In all the liturgical traditions, the Lord’s Prayer is an integral part of the major hours of the Divine Office. In the three sacraments of Christian initiation its ecclesial character is especially in evidence:2769 In Baptism and Confirmation, the handing on (traditio) of the Lord’s Prayer signifies new birth into the divine life. Since Christian prayer is our speaking to God with the very word of God, those who are “born anew”. . . through the living and abiding word of God”20 learn to invoke their Father by the one Word he always hears. They can henceforth do so, for the seal of the Holy Spirit’s anointing is indelibly placed on their hearts, ears, lips, indeed their whole filial being. This is why most of the patristic commentaries on the Our Father are addressed to catechumens and neophytes. When the Church prays the Lord’s Prayer, it is always the people made up of the “new-born” who pray and obtain mercy.21
2770 In the Eucharistic liturgy the Lord’s Prayer appears as the prayer of the whole Church and there reveals its full meaning and efficacy. Placed between the anaphora (the Eucharistic prayer) and the communion, the Lord’s Prayer sums up on the one hand all the petitions and intercessions expressed in the movement of the epiclesis and, on the other, knocks at the door of the Banquet of the kingdom which sacramental communion anticipates.
2771 In the Eucharist, the Lord’s Prayer also reveals the eschatological character of its petitions. It is the proper prayer of “the end-time,” the time of salvation that began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and will be fulfilled with the Lord’s return. The petitions addressed to our Father, as distinct from the prayers of the old covenant, rely on the mystery of salvation already accomplished, once for all, in Christ crucified and risen.
2772 From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which “it does not yet appear what we shall be.”22 The Eucharist and the Lord’s Prayer look eagerly for the Lord’s return, “until he comes.”23
2776 The Lord’s Prayer is the quintessential prayer of the Church. It is an integral part of the major hours of the Divine Office and of the sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Integrated into the Eucharist it reveals the eschatological character of its petitions, hoping for the Lord, “until he comes” (1 Cor 11:26).
“We add, also, an
d say, “Thy will be done, as in heaven so in earth ; ” not that God should do what He wills, but that we may be able to do what God wills. For who resists God, that He may not do what He wills? But since we are hindered by the devil from obeying with our thought and deed God’s will in all things, we pray and ask that God’s will may be done in us; and that it may be done in us we have need of God’s good will, that is, of His help and protection, since no one is strong by his own strength, but he is safe by the grace and mercy of God. And further, the Lord, showing the weakness of the humanity which He took on, says, ” Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me “ ; and giving example to His disciples that they should not do their own will, but God’s, He went on to say, ” Yet not as I want, but what you want.” And in another place He says, ” I came down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” Now if the Son was obedient to do His Father’s will, how much more should the servant be obedient to do his Master’s will! as in his letter John also exhorts and instructs us to do the will of God, saying, ” Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those, who love the world ; for all that is in the world - the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches - comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever,” We who desire to live forever should do the will of God, who is everlasting. Now the will of God which Christ both did and taught : humility in conversation ; steadfastness in faith ; modesty in words ; justice in deeds; mercifulness in works; discipline in morals; to be unable to do a wrong, and to be able to bear a wrong when done ; to keep peace with brothers; to love God with all one’s heart; to love Him in that He is a Father; to fear Him in that He is God; to prefer nothing whatever to Christ, because He did not prefer anything to us; to remain steadfast in His love ; to stand by His cross bravely and faithfully ; when there is any contest on behalf of His name and honour, to show in words constancy in confessing our faith in Him ; in torture, that confidence wherewith we do battle ; in death, that patience whereby we are crowned; — this is to desire to be fellowheirs with Christ; this is to do the commandment of God ; this is to fulfill the will of the Father.
Moreover, we ask that the will of God may be done both in heaven and on earth, each of which things pertains to the fulfillment of our safety and salvation. For since we possess the body from the earth and the spirit from heaven, we ourselves are earth and heaven ; and in both — that is, both in body and spirit — we pray that God’s will may be done.
And therefore we pray daily, in continual supplications, that God’s will concerning us should be done both in heaven and on earth; because this is the will of God, that earthly things should give place to heavenly, and that spiritual and divine things should prevail.
And it may be thus understood, dear brothers, that since the Lord commands and admonishes us even to love our enemies, and to pray even for those who persecute us, we should ask, moreover, for those who are still earth, and have not yet begun to be heavenly, that even in respect of these God’s will should be done, which Christ accomplished in preserving and renewing humanity. For since the disciples are not now called by Him earth, but the salt of the earth, and the apostle (St. Paul) designates the first man as being from the dust of the earth, but the second from heaven, we reasonably, who ought to be like God our Father, who makes His sun to rise upon the good and bad, and sends rain upon the just and the unjust, so pray and ask by the admonition of Christ as to make our prayer for the salvation of all men ; that as in heaven — that is, in us by our faith — the will of God has been done, so that we might be of heaven ; so also on earth — that is, in those who do not believe — God’s will may be done, that they who as yet are by their first birth of earth, may, being born of water and of the Spirit, begin to be of heaven.“
St. Cyprian, Treatises: The Lord’s Prayer, 14 – 17.