“THE SUMMARY OF THE WHOLE GOSPEL”
The Lord’s Prayer “is truly the summary of the whole
“Since the Lord . . . after handing over the practice of
prayer, said elsewhere, ‘Ask and you will receive,’ and since eve
ryone has petitions which are peculiar to his circumstances, the
regular and appropriate prayer [the Lord’s Prayer] is said first, as
the foundation of further desires.”
After showing how the psalms are the principal food of
Christian prayer and flow together in the petitions of the Our
Father, St. Augustine concludes:
Run through all the words of the holy prayers [in Scripture],
and I do not think that you will find anything in them that
is not contained and included in the Lord’s Prayer.
All the Scriptures—the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms
—are fulfilled in Christ.
The Gospel is this “Good News.” Its first
proclamation is summarized by St. Matthew in the Sermon on the
the prayer to our Father is at the center of this proclama
tion. It is in this context that each petition bequeathed to us by the
Lord is illuminated:
The Lord’s Prayer is the most perfect of prayers. . . . In it we
ask, not only for all the things we can rightly desire, but also
in the sequence that they should be desired. This prayer not
only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we
should desire them.
The Sermon on the Mount is teaching for life, the Our
Father is a prayer; but in both the one and the other the Spirit of
the Lord gives new form to our desires, those inner movements
that animate our lives. Jesus teaches us this new life by his words;
he teaches us to ask for it by our prayer. The rightness of our life in
him will depend on the rightness of our prayer.
1: PL 1, 1155.
10: PL 1, 1165; cf.
9 St. Augustine,
130, 12, 22: PL 33, 503.
12 St. Thomas Aquinas,
II-II, 83, 9.