When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, he taught them the “Our Father.”
The prayer contains six petitions. However, Jesus didn’t simply teach the disciples a prayer. He taught them a whole attitude, a way of relating to God.
The reason Jesus has confidence in the power of prayer is found in the opening word: “Abba.”
God is his Father – not a remote figure, but one who is intimately close to him. A person who regards God as a “daddy” is someone who has complete confidence that God will act on his or her behalf. Prayer has power to change things when we have that intimate, trusting relationship with our loving Father.
In the first petition, we pray that God be glorified in everything we do. In Jesus’ day the name stood for the person, so when we “hallow” God’s name, we glorify our Creator and Redeemer. Then we pray that God’s kingdom will come here on earth.
This is not just an empty wish. Jesus revealed the kingdom as a place where justice, love and peace reign in our hearts, our families, our schools, our workplace, our community. We have to do our part to usher in God’s kingdom. With Divine help, we can make it happen.
We also pray that God’s will be done here on earth. When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane; he prayed, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” (Matt. 26:29) Sometimes God wants us to do something that may be difficult. Like Jesus, we would rather not do it. However, we turn over our will to our loving Father.
When we pray for our “daily bread,” we are praying for all that will sustain us this day. We rely on God for everything each day. We pray that the Holy One will be with us and give us the nourishment we need to sustain our lives.
The next petition may be the most difficult. We ask God to forgive us as we forgive others. Two important points we need to remember. If we don’ forgive someone, it doesn’t hurt them; it hurts us. It eats away at our gut and makes us sick. We forgive for our own sake, not for the perpetrator’s sake. Forgiveness does not mean we are approving the injury. What we are saying is, “I am letting go of the hurt and forgiving the culprit because I no longer want that person to have power over me. I want to be free.”
The second point about forgiveness is that we set the standard. We tell God, “Forgive me as I forgive others.” If we don’t for give others, we are heaping coals upon our heads. Leave the punishment to God.
The last petition is asking God to keep us out of places and situations where we might be tempted to sin. God doesn’t lead us into temptation but helps us avoid harmful enticements.
A girl and her father were walking along the road when they came across a large stone. The girl said to her father, “Do you think if I use all my strength I can move this rock?” Her father answered, “If you use all your strength, I am sure you can do it.”
The girl began to push against the rock, exerting herself as much as she could. She pushed and pushed. The rock did not move. Discouraged, she said to her father, “You were wrong. I can’t do it.” The father placed his arm around his daughter’s shoulder and said, “My dear, you didn’t use all your power – you didn’t ask me for help.”
Prayer is simply asking our daddy in heaven to help us to move things in life.