All of us have faced an abrupt change of lifestyle due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. This unprecedented situation has caused a tremendous amount of anxiety. Of course, we must take care of ourselves, our families and others we are called to serve with proper food, hydration and sleep. In addition, even more importantly, we need to turn to God in prayer.
At times, we may be so caught up with worry that we may not know what to pray for. Jesus gave us the Our Father, the “most perfect of prayers,” so that we could speak with our Heavenly Father and experience peace by asking Him for everything that we need. The Father is continually faithful in answering every prayer in a way that is best for us. As we talk with our Heavenly Father in this personal way from our hearts, we will come to recognize more noticeably how much He loves us and find peace and calm in the midst of difficulties.
When the Apostles asked Jesus to teach them to pray, the Our Father is the prayer that He entrusted to all of His followers. As the model for all prayer, it is helpful to reflect on the meaning of the seven petitions in the Our Father. The first three petitions direct us to speak with the Person of God the Father, and then proceed to ask for what we need.
Our Father: We can call God “Father” because through Jesus’ death and resurrection, our sins have been forgiven and we have become His children through baptism.
Who art in Heaven: Heaven refers to God’s presence in our hearts here on earth, but we will experience the fullness of the perfect love
of God in the true homeland toward which we journeying.
Hallowed be Thy Name: In the first petition, we pray that His name will always be held holy by using our Heavenly Father’s name with
Thy Kingdom come: In the second petition we pray for our personal growth in the Kingdom of God through living in accordance with His will and we pray for Christ’s return at the end of time.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven: In the third petition, we ask our Father to unite our will to that of Jesus, so that we may live as children of God.
The final four petitions present our need to be nourished, healed of sin and strengthened in the struggle of good over evil.
Give us our daily bread: By saying give us, we express our trust in our Heavenly Father, that He will give us what we need to live now and later with Him in Heaven. Our daily bread refers to the food we need and, most especially, to the holy Eucharist—receiving Jesus Himself in holy Communion.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us: In essence, we are asking God to forgive us for our sins and to help us forgive others. Forgiveness is essential in the Christian life.
Lead us not into temptation: We are imploring God to protect us from the temptations of the enemy, Satan—the father of lies—who seeks to lead us away from God and down the path that leads to misery and sin. This petition seeks the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit for guidance, strength and ongoing vigilance.
But deliver us from evil: In the last petition we are asking God to keep us safe in His love by helping us make good choices.
Amen: We close our prayer with “Amen,” that expresses our “yes” concerning the seven petitions.
We need to ponder the words of the Our Father, repeating them slowly, over and over again, quietly, with a listening heart. In this peaceful, slow repetition, we are drawn deeper and deeper into the love of our Heavenly Father.
If you would like to download a simple prayer card with the Our Father, and/or look over further resources on this unique prayer, go to diolc.org/deeper. “Going Deeper in Prayer” is a new initiative with the goal of deepening our friendship with God. May we receive “the peace that surpasses understanding” from our Heavenly Father, who knows each of us by name and loves us unconditionally.