O God, how good you are to allow us to call you, “our Father”! Not only do you allow it, you command it. What gratitude, what joy, what love, and above all, what confidence it inspires in me. And since you are so good to me, I should be good to others. You are Father to all people, so I should feel like a loving brother towards everyone, however wicked he may be. Our Father, our Father, teach me to have your name continually on my lips.
Who art in Heaven
Why did you choose this qualification rather than any other – such as “righteous Father,” or “holy Father”? It was doubtless, O God, that my soul might be uplifted from the very beginning of this prayer, high above this poor world, and placed at the outset where it ought to be, in Heaven which is its native land. It was also to put me at the outset into a state of joy, remembering that you, O God, love me and care for me for all eternity.
Hallowed by thy name
What is it, O Lord, that I am expressing in these words? I am expressing the whole object of my desires, the whole aim and purpose of my life. I want to hallow your name in all my thoughts, words, and actions. And this means that I want to imitate your son, Jesus, since he hallowed your name in his every thought, word, and action.
Thy kingdom come
In these simple words, I am asking that you reveal the fullness of your glory, and that you make all people holy. Your kingdom will come when all people acknowledge you as master, seeking with all their minds to obey you, with all their hearts to love you, and with all their energies to serve you. So in saying those words, I am committing myself to spread the knowledge of your glory to all mankind.
Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven
These words show me to what extent every offence against you, and every sinful act of one person against another, cause you pain and grief. With feelings far deeper and far greater than we could ever understand, you desire all people to be reconciled with you and with one another. You desire Earth to be a mirror of Heaven. So when people strive to break that mirror through their sinfulness, your heart breaks. Yet equally, for the same reasons, you experience great joy at even the least act of goodness. And your heart is filled with fatherly pleasure whenever any person turns to you in prayer.
Give us this day our daily bread
You desire me, O Lord, to look to you for my every need. And in looking to you, I know that you will provide me with bread to eat, clothes to wear, and a warm place to rest. But it is not only material bread which you provide; you give also spiritual bread. Whenever I eat the bread of Holy Communion, I am reminded that your son gave his body to die on the cross, to give me spiritual food for all eternity. And in this phrase, I note that it is not “me” for whom I pray, but “us.” You do not want me ever to pray selfishly, but always to pray for other’s needs, because only through such mutual charity do I become fit to receive the true bread of eternal life.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive
Having spoken to you so intimately as “our Father” – having climbed so high, I now realize how low I really am. I remember how I fail to obey your will or work for your kingdom. And so I say, Father, forgive me.” With my whole soul I see how horrible are my sins to you, how they disgust and insult you, and what a price your son had to pay to redeem me from them. I realize how much pain I have caused you; and in that realization I feel pain myself, crying with remorse at what I have done. At the same time I recognize that I have no right to ask your forgiveness for my sins, unless I forgive others their sins. And, of course, the sins which others commit against me are as nothing compared with the sins I have committed against you. Thus in truth I am asking that all mankind might be forgiven.
Lead us not into temptation
This is a cry suitable for every hour and every minute of my life – a cry for help. I am so beset by temptation that it is impossible for me to accomplish the smallest good deed unless I call for help continually. Indeed my every prayer is in truth a call for help.
Deliver us from evil
If you were to deliver all people from evil then they would all be saints, glorifying you in their holiness. Thus your purpose and my desire would be wholly fulfilled, that you would reign as king over the whole world. But it is not fit for me to worry about the evil of others, unless I first turn inwards to my own soul. I ask only that your purpose be accomplished in me.