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Father Muench Says...

Jesus gave us the perfect prayer

July 31, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Our Sunday liturgies continue to include the Gospel readings from St. Luke’s Gospel. On one of the recent Sundays, the gospel describes the time when Jesus presented the Lord’s Prayer to the apostles. Much has been written about this prayer – retreats have been preached entirely focused on the Our Father. Personally, I remember preaching many homilies on this perfect prayer.

Today, I would like to meditate again with you on the Lord’s Prayer. I believe Jesus must have surprised many in his day when he began this prayer by saying “Our Father.” You see those people thought about God as almighty, all powerful, a Creator, but not as a personal, loving Father. Jesus tells them and us that God is our Father.
Jesus wants to teach us, his disciples, then and now – in fact, people of all time – to establish a relationship with God as “Our Father.” Our God wants to be close to us as a father. Jesus wants to be certain that we never forget that our God loves us intensely and passionately as a father.

In this prayer, Jesus continues by praising God the Father: “you are in Heaven, your name is holy, your Kingdom will continue to grow here among us on this earth,” and all of us are ready to follow God’s will in our lives.
Then we appeal to Our Father, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Our prayer is that God will take care of the hungry and the needy of our world.

Spiritually, we ask God to nourish us. Jesus does that through the Holy Eucharist. Holy Communion is our daily bread from the Lord. Jesus comes to us through this sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. In this way, we find strength from the Lord, giving us his help and his love.

Then Jesus asks us to make a covenant with our God each and every time we say this prayer, as we express our gratitude to God for his forgiving love, this forgiveness of our sins. However, in this regard, Jesus asks us to boldly allow God to forgive us just as we now forgiven those who have hurt us. I say “boldly” because I believe this a very challenging deal that we are making with our God.

Then Jesus’ prayer continues with this sentence that we continue to use, “Lead us not into temptation.” Many today – including myself – are very uncomfortable with this request that we make of the Father. I do not believe that the Lord would ever “Lead me into temptation.” However, I do need the Lord to give me courage and guidance so that I will be wise enough to recognize bad temptations and the courage to avoid all temptations that would keep me from my loving relationship with God the Father and trusting in the Lord Jesus. I am certain there is a better way to express this need in our prayer, but I will leave that to those who are holier than I.

Then, our prayer appeals to God, “but deliver us from all evil.” I need the power of the Lord’s Spirit to not only protect me from evil, but to love me so much that my God will deliver me from any evil that I may fall into – those bad decisions that enter my life. Each time I say the Lord’s Prayer I remember and proclaim my trust in the Lord, the God who will truly deliver me out of those evil ways that will interfere with my relationship with my God, those evils that will interfere with my health.

When I need a prayer, the Lord has given me the Lord’s Prayer. When I want others to pray with me, I always have the Lord’s Prayer. I know those nearby will be ready to join me.

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