Praying for what you need
Updated: Mar 15
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”
Jesus taught the disciples the Our Father as a perfect form of prayer. It is not the only way to pray, but it is a model for all our prayer. Traditionally, we speak of seven petitions within the prayer of the Our Father. As we read today the version recorded in the Gospel of Luke, we miss out on the third petition which is for God’s will to be done in heaven and on earth.
Which petition do you need today? The first petitions talk about aligning our wills to the will of God. We recognize and acknowledge the majesty of God. We commit ourselves to work to extend his Kingdom. The last petitions ask for our basic needs. We ask for sustenance, for forgiveness, and protection from evil.
The Our Father gives us space to pull back and place ourselves once again in the hands of the Heavenly Father who loves us and wants the best for us. He knows what we need before we ask, but by asking, we prepare our hearts to receive his gifts. Prayer enlarges our hearts, so to speak so that the greatness of God’s grace can flood in and take over.
Do you need to focus on aligning yourself with God’s will or do you need some basic necessities? Every prayer has a purpose, and the Our Father enlightens us about the possible purposes of our prayer. The first petitions can be used to align our will with God’s will. When we pray “hallowed be your name,” we are learning to focus on God’s glory. It is so easy for us to get caught up in ourselves. Jesus invites us to think more about God and less about ourselves. When we pray “give us this day our daily bread,” we remember that we depend fully on God. We renew our trust and confidence in him.
Our prayer should be molded to current circumstances. Jesus teaches us different types of prayer in the Our Father to fit these different moments. “For everything, there is a season.” (Eccl. 3:1) He does not want us to always pray the same, although we should always be seeking him. Our prayer when we are five is not the same as when we are fifty, though hopefully, we are always looking for a life of grace. When we attune our souls to the voice of God in our lives, we are better able to respond to what he is asking of us and increase the happiness in our lives.
Our happiness depends on letting God into our lives. The Our Father is a great means to pray in such a way that God takes first place in our lives.