The prayer that Jesus taught his disciples has been recited and reflected on as long as there has been a church to do it. It has been said to be the “perfect prayer” by the Roman church. Monks, contemplatives, mystics and lay people throughout church history have pondered its simplicity and its profundity. From Teresa of Avila and Madame Guyon through Francis Fenelon and St. John of the Cross to us today, this prayer has been recognized as being a paradigmatic prayer. Countless faithful offer the words of the Pater Noster daily.
I have found great pleasure in this prayer. It stimulates my mind and imagination to ponder on the riches of our heavenly Father and how much we must trust and rely on God for everything. Over the next little while I’m going to share bits and pieces of this prayer. Now, I must say that this will not be some ‘magic’ bullet that will open the floodgates of glory through which all sorts of blessings will pour down. That’s been tried before…and found lacking. What this prayer does is allow us to bow our wills and present our neediness and poverty to God Almighty. With each phrase one is free to express whatever thoughts and musings come into the heart. Like I said, the prayer is a model; a superstructure that in the presence of the Ruach Elohim can be fleshed out to become a cry of supplication, a loud sound of praise, the peace and quiet of adoration.
The prayer proper is in bold italics. The translation is my own.
Our Father who is in heaven,
Reveals both the immanence and transcendence of God.
Yahweh is near, like a father. One who knows us better than we know ourselves
One who patiently loves and cares for us. Yet, God is also in heaven. High above all
things, with wisdom that surpasses any that our tiny human souls can comprehend.
Yahweh lives with the Cherubim and heavenly creatures that worship and do the bidding
May Your name be revered,
Your work and reputation. You, who parted the sea and fed Your people in the desert.
You, who conceived the stars and wonders of the heavens. You, who sent Your one and
only Son to us as one of us. I reverence You.
May Your Reign come,
Yahweh, may Your reign and dominion stretch out into every region of the cosmos. Let it
touch the light of the heavens and encompass the floating debris of space. Let it reach
into and penetrate my soul; surround every cell; course through my veins; capture my
mind and imagination. Let me think thought and dream dreams that I could not imagine,
but You can.
Let Your will be done On earth as in heaven.
Here and Now; on this earth; in this time. May Your word, Your thoughts – proceed from
your own glory to engulf all that Your hands have fashioned. May all of this, in return,
bow before Your glorious presence. Lift the veil! Part the curtain that hides Your heaven
from Your creation! Give to us, as well as the trees, rivers, stars, planets, creatures in the
sky, water and land a glimpse of Your glory. Glory that far surpasses the greatest
phenomena of the created order. For You are far above all of these.
This is a good place to leave this first part. Take time to reflect and ruminate on the text of the prayer. Let the Holy Spirit take you into the presence of God, past the gossamer veil that separates the heavenly realm from the earthly. Pray to the Father. Don’t simply speak to the air.
I hope that these meager thoughts can help to launch us into a deeper and more meaningful practice of prayer.