Unpacking the Our Father (Part One)
By Summer Seminarian Brody Witt
The Our Father (Pater Noster) is one of the quintessential prayers in the Christian faith. It is the only prayer that Jesus taught us directly. The Apostles saw Jesus praying to the Father and realized they wanted what he had--the ability to converse with God as Father and Son.
Throughout the next nine weeks, we will take an in-depth look at the Our Father so that we are able to appreciate this great prayer in its entirety, and not just gloss over it during the Mass. This week I offer a brief introduction to the Lord’s Prayer. It is the point of entry to prayer and it can be considered a mental and vocal prayer.
We pray this prayer at the very least once a week at Mass, but do we realize the incredible power of this prayer? Do we realize, as St. Thomas Aquinas says, that “the Our Father is the perfect prayer” or, as Tertullian says, that the Our Father is “the summary of the whole Gospel?”
This prayer, taught by Christ, shows us the spirit we should pray in and the things we should ask for. We will discuss the petitions that make up this magnificent prayer. We will look at the seven petitions in Matthew’s Gospel that make up the Our Father. There are three petitions that carry us up to God, and four petitions bring God’s eyes to us.
Jesus teaches us this prayer as a way to coming to a closer relationship with the Father. He shows us that we need to pray in order to draw closer to God. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we pray it as sons and daughters of the Father through the Son. By praying this prayer, we express a new relationship with God.