Hallowed Be Thy Name

There has been so much written about the Lord's Prayer that it's hard to imagine that anyone could add something new; therefore I will not try. Not only is it the most perfect prayer but it's also the most commonly said prayer. One reflection about this particular prayer is that it has helped me make sense in my overall prayer life. The awareness of the hierarchy of order and relative importance of the various petitions has helped form a 'structure' for how I approach the several elements of prayer.

The prayer begins with what is most important: the recognition that God is Our Father and that He is holy. It next moves to expressing the goal of Christian life: that of living in the Kingdom which entails embracing the will of God on earth as it is in heaven.

After we acknowledge who God is and what his purpose is for us; only then do we then get to the third petition which is asking God to sustain us: 'give us this day our daily bread'. In the fourth petition we acknowledge our weakness and ask for forgiveness (as we forgive others) and finally we seek protection against evil.

Since there is this hierarchical quality to the 'Our Father', many commentators on the prayer have recommended structuring our overall prayer life in a manner to resemble this single and most perfect prayer, the 'Our Father'. This has always made great sense to me.

Admittedly there are times when we are consumed with our anxieties and concerns. There are times when we are steeped in sin and in need of forgiveness. There are times when we have a heightened sense of being touched or connected with evil and in need of protection. These concerns will drive us closer to the Lord it is true, but note how they are reactive or secondary in nature: meaning that we are being brought closer to the Lord because we are moving away from something we loath: hunger, sin and evil. In fact we could be so focused on these concerns that we actually neglect the higher form of prayer: praise, adoration and thanksgiving.

How different would our spiritual life be if we aligned our prayer more to answering his direct call to Himself? How different is prayer when we are joyfully and peacefully praising God and proclaiming his Kingdom? In fact to pray the Lords name in one word only, saying 'Jesus'; is in and of itself enough to insure our daily bread, forgive our sins, and drive out evil without even having to mention these concerns.

I know this is a leap of faith for those who need to control things until they can no longer do so; in which case they finally 'let go and let God'. But I have tried it both ways (and retried it over and over again), and can testify that to 'let go and let God' sooner rather than later is best. The only way to do this is to steep ourselves in praise, adoration and thanksgiving to the greastest extent possible with the confidence that God knows what we need before we have the awareness to ask for it.

I am suggesting that if we approach prayer with the greatest emphasis placed on the first two petitions we will experience our spiritual life in a different manner. If instead of approaching God with a list of our concerns we might approach him in praise and thanksgiving and recollect our minds to listen and hear what he has to say to us. Rather than asking what He thinks of our proposed plans and solutions to problems, we might simply say 'Thy Will be done on earth (and in my life) as it is in heaven'. The more we pray in this way, the more we will experience Him calling us to tasks and providing guidance and resources, before we arrive at our own forks in the road.

In my last post I spoke of 'The Prayer Corner' in our homes. In my opinion it is the best place to lay prayers of petition and supplication. This will 'free us', so to speak, to come to liturgy (Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament) with a readiness to praise God and give him thanks. We will be more disposed to hear his insights and callings. We will find solutions to problems before they arrive or even deflect their arrival. We become less concerned with ourselves and enter more fully into the overall mission of the Church.


Barb, sfo said...

Excellent post.
Our parish priest INSISTS that at Mass, we pray the Our Father very slowly. He wants us to savor and reflect on each word, because as you say, it is the most perfect prayer.

Marie said...

Wonderful reflection.

Prayer is God's Gift to us. By praying to our Loving God we are not doing Him a favour He is granting us the favour.

Thankyou for writing about prayer, so beautifully:).

Peace & JOY to you:)