Skip links

Overlooked and Under-Prayed: The Our Father

The Our Father is simple, easy to memorize and recite, and is thus, easily and often, very poorly prayed. I would say it is abused, is misused, and even is, shamefully, to the point of dishonoring the Lord, who personally gave this prayer to us. The prayer itself, in itself, is so beautiful!  It is profound even in its simplicity, immense even in its brevity, luminous even in a most quiet and humble way.  The Our Father—as the Lord who gave it to us—deserves better than it gets.

I want to advocate for a greater devotion to this prayer among Catholics. We all ought to pray it with greater attention and devotion. We ought not make the sign of the Cross as if we were swatting away mosquitoes, slurring together the words of our Trinitarian Faith, and racing through this prayer, the Our Father, as if points were given to the fastest. The Church, I think it could be said, is habitually disregarding and disrespecting a holy treasure given for our sanctification. Such is a bad habit that can be changed.

I want to point out in this article some of the remarkable qualities of this prayer which I hope will help readers to slow down, and actually pray this prayer. May we all catch a glimpse of the splendor of the Our Father! May we all sense the depth of its words and petitions, and be humbled by them. May we all offer ourselves to the interior reforms and reworking that the Holy Spirit is called to perform in us as we pray this prayer!

I want to write of the potency and beauty of this prayer applying, especially, two features of it: the sequence or ordering of the petitions, and the priestly or intercessory character of it.

The Our Father is a Priestly Prayer
Very significant to this prayer is its intercessory nature. A priest offers sacrifice and intercedes to God, on behalf of men. He is eternally our priest and advocate: Jesus, “because he remains forever, has a priesthood that does not pass away. Therefore, he is always able to save those who approach God through him, since he lives forever to make intercession for them.” (Heb 7:24-25)  Jesus gave us this prayer that requires of us—if we pray it rightly—a heart of intercession on behalf of men.  St. John Chrysostom noted this:

{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. {St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in Mt. 19, 4: PG 57, 278} (CCC 2768)

There is no place for self-obsession in this prayer! There is no place for the radical individualism, or self-preoccupation of this secular and materialistic world. No, this prayer—if we will listen to what we are saying, when we are praying—this prayer calls us to be persons of self-donation, having a heart for the other, for all the others, as well as ourselves. This prayer calls us to love all whom Jesus, the Author, loves: all men. His Father is our Father. We seek, we want, we pray for holy daily Bread for them, our brothers and sisters, all.  We seek forgiveness for them, we seek for them hearts of forgiveness for others. We seek protection for them: let them not be lead into spiritual danger or temptation! Keep them safe from the evil one, that enemy of all our souls!

Read more at Homiletic and Pastoral Review 

Share with Friends: