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Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Nov 14, 2016

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Lord, Teach Us to Pray

People often ask me why our Catholic tradition places an emphasis on rote prayer such as the Hail Mary, Glory Be, and The Lord’s Prayer.  One may wonder if reciting memorized words is truly prayer; formal prayers seem inauthentic to some people.  I simply respond that the life of prayer can be a struggle.  Our traditional prayers are grace-filled anchors that we can cling to when we don’t know what to pray or how to pray.  In the Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples to pray.  What prayer could be more powerful than praying the words that Jesus Christ gave us?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that The Lord’s Prayer is not simply, “a formula to repeat mechanically” but, “teaches the children of God to pray to their Father.” (2766)  Jesus’ prayer becomes our prayer.  The great theologian Hans Urs Von Balthasar says, “He wants us to stand beside him and to say the ‘Our Father’ together with him.  It is in us that he wants to stand before the Father, indeed, in us that that he wants to be in the Father.” (Credo, 36)  It is so beautiful that the Church prays The Lord’s Prayer just before communion.  We pray as one in Jesus Christ and then receive him in the Eucharist.  We are incorporated into the Body of Christ in word and deed.   

In the Gospels, Jesus identifies himself as a servant.  A servant is one who belongs to another.  Jesus was always aware that he belonged to the Father.  The Lord’s Prayer teaches us and reminds us that in Christ, we too belong to God, Our Father.


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