When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, he gave them the words to the prayer which we call the “Our Father” (Luke 11:1-13). In its various forms, this prayer is universal among all Christians. Most Christians know how to say it by heart. What Jesus gave us through the words of this prayer is a summary of the Christian life. Each recitation of the prayer is really a proclamation of the key elements that are part of living our life in Jesus.
We pray to God who is our Father. Our Father desires to have a personal relationship with us as any papa would have with his daughters and sons. His name is holy and therefore is to be used with reverence and spoken about with respect. We pray for God’s Kingdom to arrive in its fullness. It has already begun with the birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Disciples of Jesus are to help this kingdom unfold right here and now by the way we live our lives. This is not a kingdom of castles, armies and riches. It is a kingdom of justice and peace which leaves nobody poor and marginalized where conflict and division give way to peace.
In asking for our daily bread, we acknowledge the nourishment that our Father makes available to us each day. The bread of God’s Word. The bread of the sacraments. The bread of our community of faith. The Bread of Life in the Eucharist. In asking for daily bread, we also remember that there are those who have no food, clothing or shelter. Our petition for daily bread is also our commitment to do what we can to provide bread for those who have none. As we pray to have our daily bread, we proclaim the centrality of the Eucharist, the Bread of Life in our lives. Our prayer concludes by acknowledging our need for God’s strength as we endure physical trials such as illness and natural disasters and in the face of the biggest test of all, the temptation to do wrong.
Praying the prayer that Jesus first gave to his disciples both summarizes our whole Christian life and gives us the capacity to live it. Amen. Amen.
Together in faith,
Fr. Christopher Smith, Rector