The Lord’s Prayer

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray, teaching them the prayer we refer to as The Lord’s Prayer or the Our Father.

Teresa of Avila, one of the great Christian mystics, strongly urged her sisters to pray the Lord’s Prayer, teaching them that “all contemplation and perfection are enshrined in this one prayer.” She encouraged them to “take a whole hour” saying the prayer, with a consciousness of to whom they were praying and what they were asking. In The Way of Perfection, Teresa spends a number of chapters giving a commentary on the Lord’s Prayer.

Just to give a flavor of her reflections, her commentary on the first line of the prayer, Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, calls this line “a reward so large that it would easily fill the intellect and thus occupy the will in such a way one would be unable to speak a word.” In this first line, Jesus humbles himself in joining us in prayer and making himself our brother. Teresa marvels both at Jesus’ desire that God consider us his children and at the result of that desire: Because Jesus’ word cannot fail and God is obliged to be true to it, God as our Father must bear with us no matter how serious our offense. “If we return to God like the prodigal son, God has to pardon us. God has to console us in our trials. God has to sustain us in the way a parent must. For, in effect, God must be better than all the parents in the world because in God everything must be faultless. And after all this God must make us sharers and heirs with” Jesus.

Try praying the Lord’s prayer as Teresa suggested. Perhaps spend an entire prayer period on one line of the prayer. You may even want to consider taking a look at Teresa’s commentary on the rest of the prayer, contained in Chapters 27-42 of The Way of Perfection (which you can find links to here.)


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