We call it the Lord’s Prayer, but it is the prayer the Lord taught the disciples to pray. It is so rich insights into the connection we are able to make with God our Father in prayer. St. Cyprian wrote,
“What deep mysteries, my dearest brothers, are contained in the Lord’s Prayer! How many and great they are! They are expressed in a few words but they are rich in spiritual power so that nothing is left out; every petition and prayer we have to make is included. It is a compendium of heavenly doctrine.[i]”
This prayer invites us to envision the spiritual reality of God, heaven, earth, troubles, glory and power. If prayed from the heart, it will open your soul to make a genuine and satisfying spiritual connection. The Lord’s Prayer calls us first to imagine that we are talking to our Father. What mysteries are contained in just those two opening words! Only four children can honestly call my earthly father dad; but when it comes to God, every person on this earth is welcome to an intimate and caring relationship with Him. No one is prohibited from knowing Him as Father if they are willing to accept that He fully demonstrated His Father-love by sending His Son Jesus to die and pay the price for the sin that separates us from Him. Once we come to faith, we come to experience our true identity as the children of God. One of my favorite verses in the Bible states this so clearly. It is 1 John 3:1:
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”
If you know Jesus as your Savior, the Holy Spirit will reveal to you that you can pray to your Abba Father (Romans 8:15).
They mystery doesn’t stop there. The prayer goes on and on. inviting us to consider the reality that this world is not all there is. There is a whole other supernatural place called heaven where things are as they should be. We live in a place that has the capacity to do the will of God but not the inclination. However, there is a place—a place where Our Father is—where everything is done right. There are no emotional blow-ups. People don’t get cancer diagnoses there. Mothers don’t abandon their children. Everything works the way it was created to be. Everything is centered in love. This thought leaves us with a sense of awe—“Hallowed is Thy name”. It creates in us a longing for a time when His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. I heard a line from a movie that went like this, “If you get to the end and it hasn’t turned out okay, then it’s not the end. ”Well, that’s what this prayer teaches us. There will be a time when things are done on earth as they are in heaven. Until then, we pray for it to happen. We ask knowing that we haven’t reached the end yet. In the end it will be that way; until then, though, we will need some tools to survive.
The tools mentioned in his prayer are first to pray about our daily provisions and see them as given by God. Second, we are shown how to pray that we not be led into temptation, and third we practice daily forgiveness. Every day is an opportunity to open your soul to what God has given you that day, to recognize the strong forces that are pulling you away from God (temptation) and to forgive the inevitable offences that you will encounter from the other sinners who cohabit the world.
Why? Because of the great mystery of God. He is so full of power and glory forever that you just don’t try to figure it out; you know that you can’t. Keep praying this prayer until the mystery becomes pure joy.