During this special Year of the Word: The God Who Speaks, we are going to have a regular series of reflections published on our website which will prompt us to reflect on important passages of St Matthew’s Gospel, and learn more about them. We are very grateful to Dr Natalie Watson, a contemporary theologian and writer, for offering these reflections for our community.
Over the centuries and around the world today, Christians have disagreed about many things. They have different liturgies and different views on which books are or are not part of the Bible, but the Our Father, or the ‘Lord’s Prayer’, as it is often called, is the one text that all Christians share and have in common. In this passage of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about prayer. Prayer is not about the right words or even about bringing before God long lists of our needs or even those of the world. God already knows. The prayer which Jesus teaches his disciples to pray is one of the basic human attitude towards God and towards the world. He teaches us to come to God as our Father: ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ He teaches us that our whole life is in God’s hands and calls us to be open to the presence of God in our lives and in the lives of all people. He invites us to trust God for our every need: ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ As important as food are our relationships with other people: ‘forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’. Forgiveness is central to all human relationships and it is what God does to each and every one of us every day, and so Jesus repeats his encouragement to forgive after the end of the prayer. As Christians we are called to forgive, and if we open our hearts and minds to God by praying as Jesus has taught us, he will help us to forgive.
Jesus, you taught your disciples to pray and you know all our needs. Hear us as we pray, as you taught them and teach us: ‘Our Father in heaven…