Our Father: A bargaining prayer

Antonio Ronaldo Vieira Nogueira *

Christian prayer places us in a loving relationship with God. This relationship opens up space for trust, transparency and freedom. However, he risks becoming addicted when we make him an attempt to bend God to our will (often too far from the gospel…), and we want him to magically solve our outstanding issues and responsibilities, when we “show off” before God our problems as if we were the only sufferers in the world.

In order not to fall into these temptations, we have a model of prayer, which Jesus taught us and left as a distinctive model for the lives of his followers. Our Father is the epitome of the gospel, the center of Jesus’ teaching, his program in life, and the expression of his deep and intimate relationship with God the Father. The structure of prayer is very simple: it begins with the supplication, which is clearly visible to whomever we address: “Our Father in Heaven”. Then there are two parts. In the first, three God-centered desires are presented: his name, his kingdom, and his will. In the second case, human needs are presented: “Give us bread”, “Forgive us our trespasses”, “Lead us to temptation not”, “Deliver us from evil”. So let’s do a short meditation.

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The prayer begins with the supplication “Our Father”. Through him, we enter into a relationship with God like Jesus. It teaches us to call God “Abba”. Jesus deals with God in closeness, trust, tenderness, and tenderness to a young child. In this way, we can also turn to God with the same confidence and security, knowing that he is always attentive to our needs and that he loves us unconditionally, understands and forgives us, because he wants us as sons and daughters.

When we call on God as a Father, we need first of all to have the consciousness of sons and daughters and, therefore, to make all our fears disappear so that we renounce ourselves with confidence and joy in God, our dear and loving Father: “See what a gift of love the Father has given us: to be called sons of God: .and so are we!” (1 John 3, 1). We also need to realize that we are brothers and sisters. All prayer is done in the plural, because we cannot address God the Father without showing before us all the brothers and sisters with their pain and misery. This is what Pope Francis remembers well: “No prayer is raised to God but prayer.” Brothers and Sisters Societyor us: we live in a society, we are brothers and sisters, we are a praying people, “we”. […] If you do not realize that there are many people around you suffering, if you do not feel sorry for the tears of the poor, if you are accustomed to everything, then your heart … what does it look like? withered? No, worse: it is made of stone. Well in this case we ask the Lord to touch us with His Spirit and soften our hearts: “Lord, soften my heart!” (Catechism of Our FatherNo. 6, on February 13, 2019).

We tell our Father that he is in heaven. This means that it is not something we have and that we can always provide it when we feel the need. God, as a Father full of love and kindness, does not replace us in our task and responsibility, but supports us with His love and grace so that we can build the world according to His loving and saving project.

The first request is that the name of God be sanctified. He mentions the name of God with his goodness and mentions his saving and liberating presence in the history of his people. The request indicates that only God is holy and that His chosen people, to honor His name, must be saints because He is holy. And if God is called Father, to honor the name of the Father, then it is necessary to honor all sons, our brothers: “He who does not love his brother whom he has seen, God whom he has not seen cannot love” (1). U 4.20). Thus, reverence for the name of God the Father consists in living as sons in brotherhood with others.

The second supplication asks for the coming of the kingdom of God. God reigns when he lives justice, love, and brotherhood among his sons and daughters. In the life and practice of Jesus, the coming of the kingdom was announced when those who were ignored and cast away by society felt the loving presence of God who gives them life and dignity: “The blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the gospel is preached to the poor” (Matthew 11, 5). Thus, “today and always,” the poor are the distinguished recipients of the gospel. [Bento XVI]The gospel, which is given freely, is a sign of the kingdom that Jesus came to bear.”for example 48). The kingdom of God is, at the same time, a gift from God, because he who fulfills it, a promise, because there is always a surplus beyond history, and a task, because we contribute to it even now are the signs of his transformed presence.

The third request is closely related to the previous request. The will of God is the salvation of mankind, that is, their participation in the divine life. Therefore, it must be our greatest desire for God’s plan of salvation to become a reality. He does not oppose or offend our will, for what we ask is our salvation, the salvation of all, inasmuch as, like Jesus, we are ready to live a life of complete obedience to the Father in the surrender of our lives to all his sons and our brethren.

Thus, we come to the second part of Our Father with the four requests that pertain to man and his needs. The first is bread, which represents food in general. It is the basic need that can not stop asking until there is a sharing that creates the conditions for a dignified life for all: “The bread we ask of the Lord in prayer is the same that one day will charge us. – a little is the habit of sharing it with those near, and it is the small habit of sharing it. It was bread offered to mankind, and on the contrary it was eaten by a few: love cannot bear this. Our love cannot bear it; not even the love of God can bear this selfishness by not breaking the bread.” (Catechism of Our FatherNo. 11, on 03/27/2019).

The next request relates God’s forgiveness to our ability to forgive. It is not about presenting ourselves as a model for God’s forgiveness. The Father’s forgiveness is always free and precedes us without any merit on our part. This forgiveness, this free experience of love, awakens in us the capacity for forgiveness, and reproduces the same attitude that God the Father has towards us: “The vertical relationship of benevolence on the part of God is deflected and called to translate it into the new relationship we live with our brothers: a horizontal relationship. The good God calls us all to to be good”Catechism of Our FatherNo. 13, on 04/24/2019).

The penultimate request is that God not lead us into temptation. We express our awareness that we are weak and ask the Father to support us so that we do not fall into sin, into a radical and definitive temptation to reject His kingdom and love and to abandon following Jesus Christ. This means the need to monitor our lives so that we do not succumb to the hidden forces of sin, and at the same time, pray that we always preserve God’s love so that we always love.

The last request is that the Father save us from evil. With him we express that we suffer under the forces of evil that were formed against the kingdom of God and that exist in the world. In this sense, the original Greek term, rather than rendition, refers to a prayer that might bring us out of the temples of sin and evil: “He has taken us out of the power of darkness and has delivered us into the kingdom of his beloved Son. In whom is salvation and forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13). When we seek deliverance from evil, we must be prepared to face it, like Jesus.

By praying to our Father as Jesus taught and lived, we overcome intimacy and indifference. The call of God the Father leads us to a filial and fraternal conscience. We experience his fatherly love, by the power and strength of the Spirit, we welcome the gift of love we live in self-giving, like Jesus. In such difficult times as we live in, let us confidently utter each of these words that lead us to a commitment to love, because what we pray is how we want to live.

* Priest of the Diocese of Limoeiro do Norte-CE. MA in Systematic Theology from the Jesuit College of Philosophy and Theology (FAJE)? “Belo Horizonte?” MG Professor and Course Coordinator of Theology at Fortaleza Catholic College (FCF)? “Fortaleza?” EC

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