SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
Say this when you pray’
The ‘Our Father’ is the model of all prayer. Two versions of this prayer are recorded in the gospels, a longer form containing seven petitions in the Gospel of Matthew and a shorter form containing five petitions in the Gospel of Luke. It is a prayer that has inspired poets and philosophers, popes and politicians, prisoners and paupers in every corner of the world over the past two thousand years. Every time we pray we use a version of the ‘Our Father’. It is a complete programme of Christian living. It is a summary of the entire Gospel. It covers all of life. It covers our past sin: ‘forgive us our trespasses’. It covers our present need: ‘give us this day our daily bread’. It covers our future trials: ‘lead us not into temptation’. Most amazing of all, it ‘allows’ us to address God as ‘Father’. This is an extraordinary privilege, which would have been incomprehensible to the Jews of Jesus’ day. It’s a privilege that carries with it a challenging responsibility. If we ‘dare’ to call God ‘Father’, we must be prepared to act as His sons and daughters should. The ‘Our Father’ is meant to be lived.
Prayer is the pillow of religion. When we are on our knees we can’t stumble. ‘I tell God what I want quite simply and He always seems to understand’ (St. Thérese of Lisieux).