In today’s reading from Luke, we encounter one of the synoptic Gospel accounts of the Lord’s Prayer. Though we are perhaps more familiar with the Lord’s Prayer as given in the sixth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel during the Sermon on the Mount because that is the version adopted by our liturgical tradition, this account from Luke is a reflection of the Lord’s Prayer as understood in the very early tradition from which Luke came. Both versions make the same basic petitions.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we petition God to provide for our basic needs and to forgive our sins. We promise the Lord to forgive others. We ask God to preserve us from the Evil One and to deliver us from him. We praise God and His holy Name and we declare our longing for the coming of God’s Kingdom.
Those are all excellent. Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, commands us to pray for these things, and so we do. Our Lord teaches us the perfect prayer; it is concise and complete. It can be — and should be — prayed repeatedly throughout the day. It asks for what we need and it gives glory to God. It is a prayer to which we can always turn. If the Lord’s Prayer prayed earnestly are the last words that we speak on this earth, we should expect to find ourselves in very good company in the world to come.
The Lord’s Prayer is a wonderful gift that Jesus gives us for all of those reasons, and for many others. But there is one other that, I believe, surpasses all else. In the beginning of both version of the Lord’s Prayer as presented in the Gospels, Our Lord instructs us to address His Father as our Father. We are instructed to call the Creator of the Universe and the Architect of Life, our perfect and eternal God — omnipotent, omniscient, and holy beyond our understanding — we are instructed to call Him our Father.
The depth of the love that God shows for us in that instruction cannot be overstated and it cannot be fully understood. It is beyond our mortal minds. We can accept it, and we can love God as fully as we are able — and certainly we should!
We are invited into a relationship with God that has no equal in all of creation. And so we should rejoice, because when we address God as our Father when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we are responding to that invitation made by our Almighty Father to enter into a relationship of love with Him, and to recognize that He loves us and values us, and that we should reflect that love and value to those around us treating them as we desire ourselves to be treated. We should — as we heard in the Gospel so recently — love God with all our heart, all our soul and all our mind; and, we should love our neighbor as ourselves.