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Christian Prayer

663

II.

“T

he

L

ord

s

P

rayer

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The traditional expression “the Lord’s Prayer”—

oratio

Dominica

—means that the prayer to our Father is taught and given

to us by the Lord Jesus. The prayer that comes to us from Jesus is

truly unique: it is “of the Lord.” On the one hand, in the words of

this prayer the only Son gives us the words the Father gave him:

13

he is the master of our prayer. On the other, as Word incarnate, he

knows in his human heart the needs of his human brothers and

sisters and reveals them to us: he is the model of our prayer.

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But Jesus does not give us a formula to repeat mechani­

cally.

14

As in every vocal prayer, it is through the Word of God that

the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God to pray to their Father.

Jesus not only gives us the words of our filial prayer; at the same

time he gives us the Spirit by whom these words become in us

“spirit and life.”

15

Even more, the proof and possibility of our filial

prayer is that the Father “sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,

crying, ‘

Abba!

Father!’”

16

Since our prayer sets forth our desires

before God, it is again the Father, “he who searches the hearts of

men,” who “knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit

intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

17

The prayer

to Our Father is inserted into the mysterious mission of the Son and

of the Spirit.

III.

T

he

P

rayer of

the

C

hurch

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This indivisible gift of the Lord’s words and of the Holy

Spirit who gives life to them in the hearts of believers has been

received and lived by the Church from the beginning. The first

communities prayed the Lord’s Prayer three times a day,

18

in

place of the “Eighteen Benedictions” customary in Jewish piety.

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According to the apostolic tradition, the Lord’s Prayer is

essentially rooted in liturgical prayer:

[The Lord] teaches us to make prayer in common for all our

brethren. For he did not say “my Father” who art in heaven,

but “our” Father, offering petitions for the common Body.

19

13 Cf.

Jn

17:7.

14 Cf.

Mt

6:7;

1 Kings

18:26-29.

15

Jn

6:63.

16

Gal

4:6.

17

Rom

8:27.

18 Cf.

Didache

8, 3: SCh 248, 174.

19 St. John Chrysostom,

Hom. in Mt.

19, 4: PG 57, 278.

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