2759 Jesus "was praying at a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'" In response to this request the Lord entrusts to his disciples and to his Church the fundamental Christian prayer. St. Luke presents a brief text of five petitions, while St. Matthew gives a more developed version of seven petitions. The liturgical tradition of the Church has retained St. Matthew's text:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
2760 Very early on, liturgical usage concluded the Lord's Prayer with a
doxology. In the Didache, we find, "For yours are the power and the glory
for ever." The Apostolic Constitutions add to the beginning: "the
kingdom," and this is the formula retained to our day in ecumenical
The Byzantine tradition adds after "the glory" the words "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." The Roman Missal develops the last petition in the explicit perspective of "awaiting our blessed hope" and of the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then comes the assembly's acclamation or the repetition of the doxology from the Apostolic Constitutions.
2761 The Lord's Prayer "is truly the summary of the whole gospel." "Since the Lord . . . after handing over the practice of prayer, said elsewhere, 'Ask and you will receive,' and since everyone 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."
2762 After showing how the psalms are the principal food of Christian
prayer and flow together in the petitions of the Our Father, St. Augustine
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.
2763 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 Mount;
the prayer to our Father is at the center of this proclamation. It is in
this context that each petition bequeathed to us by the Lord is
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.
2764 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.
2765 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: 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.
2766 But Jesus does not give us a formula to repeat mechanically. 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." 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!'" 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." The prayer to Our Father is inserted into the mysterious mission of the Son and of the Spirit.
2767 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, in place of the "Eighteen Benedictions" customary in Jewish piety.
2768 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.
In all the liturgical traditions, the Lord's Prayer is an integral part of the major hours of the Divine Office. In the three sacraments of Christian initiation its ecclesial character is especially in evidence:
2769 In Baptism and Confirmation, the handing on (traditio) of the Lord's Prayer signifies new birth into the divine life. Since Christian prayer is our speaking to God with the very word of God, those who are "born anew". . . through the living and abiding word of God" learn to invoke their Father by the one Word he always hears. They can henceforth do so, for the seal of the Holy Spirit's anointing is indelibly placed on their hearts, ears, lips, indeed their whole filial being. This is why most of the patristic commentaries on the Our Father are addressed to catechumens and neophytes. When the Church prays the Lord's Prayer, it is always the people made up of the "new-born" who pray and obtain mercy.
2770 In the Eucharistic liturgy the Lord's Prayer appears as the prayer of the whole Church and there reveals its full meaning and efficacy. Placed between the anaphora (the Eucharistic prayer) and the communion, the Lord's Prayer sums up on the one hand all the petitions and intercessions expressed in the movement of the epiclesis and, on the other, knocks at the door of the Banquet of the kingdom which sacramental communion anticipates.
2771 In the Eucharist, the Lord's Prayer also reveals the eschatological character of its petitions. It is the proper prayer of "the end-time," the time of salvation that began with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and will be fulfilled with the Lord's return. The petitions addressed to our Father, as distinct from the prayers of the old covenant, rely on the mystery of salvation already accomplished, once for all, in Christ crucified and risen.
2772 From this unshakeable faith springs forth the hope that sustains each of the seven petitions, which express the groanings of the present age, this time of patience and expectation during which "it does not yet appear what we shall be." The Eucharist and the Lord's Prayer look eagerly for the Lord's return, "until he comes."
2773 In response to his disciples' request "Lord, teach us to pray" (Lk 11:1), Jesus entrusts them with the fundamental Christian prayer, the Our Father.
2774 "The Lord's Prayer is truly the summary of the whole gospel," the "most perfect of prayers." It is at the center of the Scriptures.
2775 It is called "the Lord's Prayer" because it comes to us from the Lord Jesus, the master and model of our prayer.
2776 The Lord's Prayer is the quintessential prayer of the Church. It is an integral part of the major hours of the Divine Office and of the sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Integrated into the Eucharist it reveals the eschatological character of its petitions, hoping for the Lord, "until he comes" (1 Cor 11:26).
2777 In the Roman liturgy, the Eucharistic assembly is invited to pray to
our heavenly Father with filial boldness; the Eastern liturgies develop
and use similar expressions: "dare in all confidence," "make us worthy
of...." From the burning bush Moses heard a voice saying to him, "Do not
come near; put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you
are standing is holy ground." Only Jesus could cross that threshold of
the divine holiness, for "when he had made purification for sins," he
brought us into the Father's presence: "Here am I, and the children God
has given me."
Our awareness of our status as slaves would make us sink into the ground and our earthly condition would dissolve into dust, if the authority of our Father himself and the Spirit of his Son had not impelled us to this cry . . . 'Abba, Father!' . . . When would a mortal dare call God 'Father,' if man's innermost being were not animated by power from on high?"
2778 This power of the Spirit who introduces us to the Lord's Prayer is expressed in the liturgies of East and of West by the beautiful, characteristically Christian expression: parrhesia, straightforward simplicity, filial trust, joyous assurance, humble boldness, the certainty of being loved.
2779 Before we make our own this first exclamation of the Lord's Prayer,
we must humbly cleanse our hearts of certain false images drawn "from this
world." Humility makes us recognize that "no one knows the Son except the
Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the
Son chooses to reveal him," that is, "to little children." The
purification of our hearts has to do with paternal or maternal images,
stemming from our personal and cultural history, and influencing our
relationship with God. God our Father transcends the categories of the
created world. To impose our own ideas in this area "upon him" would be to
fabricate idols to adore or pull down. To pray to the Father is to enter
into his mystery as he is and as the Son has revealed him to us.
The expression God the Father had never been revealed to anyone. When Moses himself asked God who he was, he heard another name. The Father's name has been revealed to us in the Son, for the name "Son" implies the new name "Father."
2780 We can invoke God as "Father" because he is revealed to us by his Son become man and because his Spirit makes him known to us. The personal relation of the Son to the Father is something that man cannot conceive of nor the angelic powers even dimly see: and yet, the Spirit of the Son grants a participation in that very relation to us who believe that Jesus is the Christ and that we are born of God.
2781 When we pray to the Father, we are in communion with him and with his Son, Jesus Christ. Then we know and recognize him with an ever new sense of wonder. The first phrase of the Our Father is a blessing of adoration before it is a supplication. For it is the glory of God that we should recognize him as "Father," the true God. We give him thanks for having revealed his name to us, for the gift of believing in it, and for the indwelling of his Presence in us.
2782 We can adore the Father because he has caused us to be reborn to his
life by adopting us as his children in his only Son: by Baptism, he
incorporates us into the Body of his Christ; through the anointing of his
Spirit who flows from the head to the members, he makes us other
God, indeed, who has predestined us to adoption as his sons, has conformed us to the glorious Body of Christ. So then you who have become sharers in Christ are appropriately called "Christs."
The new man, reborn and restored to his God by grace, says first of all, "Father!" because he has now begun to be a son.
2783 Thus the Lord's Prayer reveals us to ourselves at the same time that
it reveals the Father to us.
O man, you did not dare to raise your face to heaven, you lowered your eyes to the earth, and suddenly you have received the grace of Christ all your sins have been forgiven. From being a wicked servant you have become a good son.... Then raise your eyes to the Father who has begotten you through Baptism, to the Father who has redeemed you through his Son, and say: "Our Father.... " But do not claim any privilege. He is the Father in a special way only of Christ, but he is the common Father of us all, because while he has begotten only Christ, he has created us. Then also say by his grace, "Our Father," so that you may merit being his son.
2784 The free gift of adoption requires on our part continual conversion
and new life. Praying to our Father should develop in us two fundamental
First, the desire to become like him: though created in his image, we are restored to his likeness by grace; and we must respond to this grace.
We must remember . . . and know that when we call God "our Father" we ought to behave as sons of God.
You cannot call the God of all kindness your Father if you preserve a cruel and inhuman heart; for in this case you no longer have in you the marks of the heavenly Father's kindness.
We must contemplate the beauty of the Father without ceasing and adorn our own souls accordingly.
2785 Second, a humble and trusting heart that enables us "to turn and
become like children": for it is to "little children" that the Father
[The prayer is accomplished] by the contemplation of God alone, and by the warmth of love, through which the soul, molded and directed to love him, speaks very familiarly to God as to its own Father with special devotion.
Our Father: at this name love is aroused in us . . . and the confidence of obtaining what we are about to ask.... What would he not give to his children who ask, since he has already granted them the gift of being his children?
2786 "Our" Father refers to God. The adjective, as used by us, does not express possession, but an entirely new relationship with God.
2787 When we say "our" Father, we recognize first that all his promises of love announced by the prophets are fulfilled in the new and eternal covenant in his Christ: we have become "his" people and he is henceforth "our" God. This new relationship is the purely gratuitous gift of belonging to each other: we are to respond to "grace and truth" given us in Jesus Christ with love and faithfulness.
2788 Since the Lord's Prayer is that of his people in the "endtime," this "our" also expresses the certitude of our hope in God's ultimate promise: in the new Jerusalem he will say to the victor, "I will be his God and he shall be my son."
2789 When we pray to "our" Father, we personally address the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By doing so we do not divide the Godhead, since the Father is its "source and origin," but rather confess that the Son is eternally begotten by him and the Holy Spirit proceeds from him. We are not confusing the persons, for we confess that our communion is with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, in their one Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is consubstantial and indivisible. When we pray to the Father, we adore and glorify him together with the Son and the Holy Spirit.
2790 Grammatically, "our" qualifies a reality common to more than one person. There is only one God, and he is recognized as Father by those who, through faith in his only Son, are reborn of him by water and the Spirit. The Church is this new communion of God and men. United with the only Son, who has become "the firstborn among many brethren," she is in communion with one and the same Father in one and the same Holy Spirit. In praying "our" Father, each of the baptized is praying in this communion: "The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul."
2791 For this reason, in spite of the divisions among Christians, this prayer to "our" Father remains our common patrimony and an urgent summons for all the baptized. In communion by faith in Christ and by Baptism, they ought to join in Jesus' prayer for the unity of his disciples.
2792 Finally, if we pray the Our Father sincerely, we leave individualism behind, because the love that we receive frees us from it. The "our" at the beginning of the Lord's Prayer, like the "us" of the last four petitions, excludes no one. If we are to say it truthfully, our divisions and oppositions have to be overcome.
2793 The baptized cannot pray to "our" Father without bringing before him all those for whom he gave his beloved Son. God's love has no bounds, neither should our prayer. Praying "our" Father opens to us the dimensions of his love revealed in Christ: praying with and for all who do not yet know him, so that Christ may "gather into one the children of God." God's care for all men and for the whole of creation has inspired all the great practitioners of prayer; it should extend our prayer to the full breadth of love whenever we dare to say "our" Father.
2794 This biblical expression does not mean a place ("space"), but a way
of being; it does not mean that God is distant, but majestic. Our Father
is not "elsewhere": he transcends everything we can conceive of his
holiness. It is precisely because he is thrice holy that he is so close to
the humble and contrite heart.
"Our Father who art in heaven" is rightly understood to mean that God is in the hearts of the just, as in his holy temple. At the same time, it means that those who pray should desire the one they invoke to dwell in them.
"Heaven" could also be those who bear the image of the heavenly world, and in whom God dwells and tarries.
2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father's house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant, but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven. Jn Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled, for the Son alone "descended from heaven" and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.
2796 When the Church prays "our Father who art in heaven," she is
professing that we are the People of God, already seated "with him in the
heavenly places in Christ Jesus" and "hidden with Christ in God;" yet
at the same time, "here indeed we groan, and long to put on our heavenly
[Christians] are in the flesh, but do not live according to the flesh. They spend their lives on earth, but are citizens of heaven.
2797 Simple and faithful trust, humble and joyous assurance are the proper dispositions for one who prays the Our Father.
2798 We can invoke God as "Father" because the Son of God made man has revealed him to us. Jn this Son, through Baptism, we are incorporated and adopted as sons of God.
2799 The Lord's Prayer brings us into communion with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. At the same time it reveals us to ourselves (cf. GS 22 # 1).
2800 Praying to our Father should develop in us the will to become like him and foster in us a humble and trusting heart.
2801 When we say "Our" Father, we are invoking the new covenant in Jesus Christ, communion with the Holy Trinity, and the divine love which spreads through the Church to encompass the world.
2802 "Who art in heaven" does not refer to a place but to God's majesty and his presence in the hearts of the just. Heaven, the Father's house, is the true homeland toward which we are heading and to which, already, we belong.
2803 After we have placed ourselves in the presence of God our Father to adore and to love and to bless him, the Spirit of adoption stirs up in our hearts seven petitions, seven blessings. The first three, more theological, draw us toward the glory of the Father; the last four, as ways toward him, commend our wretchedness to his grace. "Deep calls to deep."
2804 The first series of petitions carries us toward him, for his own sake: thy name, thy kingdom, thy will! It is characteristic of love to think first of the one whom we love. In none of the three petitions do we mention ourselves; the burning desire, even anguish, of the beloved Son for his Father's glory seizes us: "hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done...." These three supplications were already answered in the saving sacrifice of Christ, but they are henceforth directed in hope toward their final fulfillment, for God is not yet all in all.
2805 The second series of petitions unfolds with the same movement as certain Eucharistic epicleses: as an offering up of our expectations, that draws down upon itself the eyes of the Father of mercies. They go up from us and concern us from this very moment, in our present world: "give us . . . forgive us . . . lead us not ... deliver us...." The fourth and fifth petitions concern our life as such - to be fed and to be healed of sin; the last two concern our battle for the victory of life - that battle of prayer.
2806 By the three first petitions, we are strengthened in faith, filled with hope, and set aflame by charity. Being creatures and still sinners, we have to petition for us, for that "us" bound by the world and history, which we offer to the boundless love of God. For through the name of his Christ and the reign of his Holy Spirit, our Father accomplishes his plan of salvation, for us and for the whole world.
2807 The term "to hallow" is to be understood here not primarily in its causative sense (only God hallows, makes holy), but above all in an evaluative sense: to recognize as holy, to treat in a holy way. And so, in adoration, this invocation is sometimes understood as praise and thanksgiving. But this petition is here taught to us by Jesus as an optative: a petition, a desire, and an expectation in which God and man are involved. Beginning with this first petition to our Father, we are immersed in the innermost mystery of his Godhead and the drama of the salvation of our humanity. Asking the Father that his name be made holy draws us into his plan of loving kindness for the fullness of time, "according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ," that we might "be holy and blameless before him in love."
2808 In the decisive moments of his economy God reveals his name, but he does so by accomplishing his work. This work, then, is realized for us and in us only if his name is hallowed by us and in us.
2809 The holiness of God is the inaccessible center of his eternal mystery. What is revealed of it in creation and history, Scripture calls "glory," the radiance of his majesty. In making man in his image and likeness, God "crowned him with glory and honor," but by sinning, man fell "short of the glory of God." From that time on, God was to manifest his holiness by revealing and giving his name, in order to restore man to the image of his Creator.
2810 In the promise to Abraham and the oath that accompanied it, God commits himself but without disclosing his name. He begins to reveal it to Moses and makes it known clearly before the eyes of the whole people when he saves them from the Egyptians: "he has triumphed gloriously." From the covenant of Sinai onwards, this people is "his own" and it is to be a "holy (or "consecrated": the same word is used for both in Hebrew) nation," because the name of God dwells in it.
2811 In spite of the holy Law that again and again their Holy God gives them - "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" - and although the Lord shows patience for the sake of his name, the people turn away from the Holy One of Israel and profane his name among the nations. For this reason the just ones of the old covenant, the poor survivors returned from exile, and the prophets burned with passion for the name.
2812 Finally, in Jesus the name of the Holy God is revealed and given to us, in the flesh, as Savior, revealed by what he is, by his word, and by his sacrifice. This is the heart of his priestly prayer: "Holy Father . . . for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth." Because he "sanctifies" his own name, Jesus reveals to us the name of the Father. At the end of Christ's Passover, the Father gives him the name that is above all names: "Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
2813 In the waters of Baptism, we have been "washed . . . sanctified . . .
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our
God." Our Father calls us to holiness in the whole of our life, and
since "he is the source of [our] life in Christ Jesus, who became for us
wisdom from God, and . . .sanctification," both his glory and our life
depend on the hallowing of his name in us and by us. Such is the urgency
of our first petition.
By whom is God hallowed, since he is the one who hallows? But since he said, "You shall be holy to me; for I the LORD am holy," we seek and ask that we who were sanctified in Baptism may persevere in what we have begun to be. And we ask this daily, for we need sanctification daily, so that we who fail daily may cleanse away our sins by being sanctified continually.... We pray that this sanctification may remain in us.
2814 The sanctification of his name among the nations depends inseparably
on our life and our prayer:
We ask God to hallow his name, which by its own holiness saves and makes holy all creation .... It is this name that gives salvation to a lost world. But we ask that this name of God should be hallowed in us through our actions. For God's name is blessed when we live well, but is blasphemed when we live wickedly. As the Apostle says: "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." We ask then that, just as the name of God is holy, so we may obtain his holiness in our souls.
When we say "hallowed be thy name," we ask that it should be hallowed in us, who are in him; but also in others whom God's grace still awaits, that we may obey the precept that obliges us to pray for everyone, even our enemies. That is why we do not say expressly "hallowed be thy name 'in us,"' for we ask that it be so in all men.
2815 This petition embodies all the others. Like the six petitions that follow, it is fulfilled by the prayer of Christ. Prayer to our Father is our prayer, if it is prayed in the name of Jesus. In his priestly prayer, Jesus asks: "Holy Father, protect in your name those whom you have given me."