Beckett: “Our Father, Who Art in Heaven”

What does this mean? “With these words, God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father” (SC, The Introduction).

The first two words of the Our Father tell us everything we need to know about this prayer, and all prayer. First, when we say “our,” we know we are not praying alone even though we may be praying privately, for we pray with the communion of saints. And second, when we say “Father,” we know we are not entering the heavenly courts of our Judge but rather into the lap and forbearance of our heavenly Father.

As noted in What is Prayer?, this is the prayer our Lord has given us—no human prayer can top the prayer the Son of God has given us. Therefore, when one cannot find the words to pray, this prayer from our Lord is more than sufficient to pray. For when we say this prayer, Jesus prays for us and with us. He also enables us to approach the Father just as He approaches His Father—”with confidence” to “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Our earthly fathers know how to give good gifts to their children. After making this point, Jesus then says, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11). And we know exactly what God our Father has promised to give us on this earth. They’re in all the petitions that follow this holy prayer: to hallow His name on our lips, to give us His kingdom, to do His good and gracious will for us, to give us our daily bread, to forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us, to guard us from temptation, and to deliver us from the evil one.


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