Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” - Luke 11:1
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. In response, He taught them the “Our Father” prayer. There is much that can be said about this prayer. This prayer contains all we need to know about prayer. It is a catechetical lesson about prayer itself and contains seven petitions to the Father. Let’s look at the first three of these as found in Chapter 11 of My Catholic Worship!
Hallowed be Thy Name: “Hallowed” means to be holy. As we pray this part of the prayer we are not praying that God’s name will become holy, for His name already is holy. Rather, we pray that this holiness of God will be recognized by us and all people. We pray that there will be a deep reverence of God’s name and that we will always treat God with the proper honor, devotion, love and awe to which we are called.
It’s especially important to point out how often God’s name is used in vain. That is a strange phenomenon. Have you ever wondered why, when people get angry, they would curse God’s name? It’s strange. And, in fact, it’s demonic. Anger, in those moments, invites us to act in a contrary way to this prayer and to the proper use of God’s name.
God Himself is holy, holy, holy. He is thrice holy! In other words, He is the Holiest! Living with this fundamental disposition of heart is key to a good Christian life and to a good life of prayer.
Perhaps a good practice would be to regularly honor God’s name. For example, what a wonderful habit it would be to regularly say, “Sweet and precious Jesus, I love You.” Or, “Glorious and merciful God, I adore You.” Adding adjectives like these before we mention God is a good habit to get into as a way of fulfilling this first petition of the Lord’s Prayer.
Another good practice would be to always refer to the “Blood of Christ” we consume at Mass as the “Precious Blood.” Or the Host as the “Sacred Host.” There are many who fall into the trap of just referring to it as the “wine” or the “bread.” This is most likely not malicious or even sinful, but it’s much better to enter into the practice and habit of honoring and revering anything that is associated with God, especially the Most Holy Eucharist!
Thy Kingdom Come: This petition of the Lord’s Prayer is a way of acknowledging two things. First, we acknowledge the fact that Jesus will, one day, return in all His glory and establish His permanent and visible Kingdom. This will be the time of the Final Judgment when the current Heaven and Earth will pass away and the new order will be established. So, praying this petition is a faith-filled acknowledgment of this fact. It’s our way of saying we not only believe this will happen, we also look forward to it and pray for it.
Secondly, we must realize that the Kingdom of God is already here among us. For now, it’s an invisible Kingdom. It’s a spiritual reality that must become an all-consuming and present reality in our world.
To pray that God’s “Kingdom come” means we desire that He first take greater possession of our souls. The Kingdom of God must be within us. He must reign on the throne of our hearts and we must allow Him. Therefore, this must be our constant prayer.
We also pray that the Kingdom of God become present in our world. God wants to transform the social, political and cultural order right now. So we must pray and work for that. Our prayer for the Kingdom to come is also a way for us to commit ourselves to God to allow Him to use us for this very purpose. It’s a prayer of faith and courage. Faith because we believe He can use us, and courage because the evil one and world will not like it. As the Kingdom of God is established in this world through us, we will meet with opposition. But that’s ok and should be expected. And this petition is, in part, to help us with this mission.
Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven: Praying for the Kingdom of God to come means, also, that we seek to live the will of the Father. This is done as we enter into union with Christ Jesus. He fulfilled the will of His Father with perfection. His human life is the perfect model of the will of God and it is also the means by which we live the will of God.
This petition is a way of committing ourselves to live in union with Christ Jesus. We take our will and entrust it to Christ so that His will lives in us.
By doing this we begin to be filled with all virtue. We will also be filled with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which are necessary for living the will of the Father. For example, the Gift of Knowledge is a gift by which we come to know what God wants of us in particular situations in life. So praying this petition is a way of asking God to fill us with knowledge of His will. But we also need the courage and strength necessary to then live out that will. So this petition also prays for those Gifts of the Holy Spirit that enable us to live out what God reveals as His divine plan for our lives.
It is, of course, also an intercession for all people. In this petition we pray that all will come to live in unity and harmony with God’s perfect plan.
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. Jesus, I trust in You.