“This is how you are to pray: ‘Our Father in heaven…’ ” —Matthew 6:9
The “Our Father” is not only a prayer but the Lord’s pattern for all authentic prayer. In the “Our Father,” the Lord teaches us how to pray. St. Augustine taught that the “Our Father” is not only the pattern of prayer but also the criterion for all authentic prayer intentions. Therefore, we should not pray for something unless it fits into the “Our Father.”
St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the “Our Father” is not only the criterion for authentic prayer petitions but also the criterion for all godly desires. If it does not fit into the “Our Father,” we should not even want it (see Catechism, 2763). St. Thomas Aquinas also taught that the “Our Father” reveals the order in which godly desires should be desired (see Catechism, 2763). This means that our first desire is for anything that would help God’s children become holy and thereby make God the Father’s name hallowed (Mt 6:9). Then we can desire whatever contributes to God’s kingdom coming and His will being done (Mt 6:10).
Consequently, when we pray the “Our Father” in the right way, we are transforming our prayer, desires, lifestyles, and lives. In effect, when we pray the “Our Father,” we are proclaiming new life in Christ, the “radical newness” of Baptism (see Lay Members of Christ’s Faithful People, Pope John Paul II, 10), and the Great Jubilee of international justice and freedom (see Lv 25:8ff).
Traditionally, the priest at Mass has invited us to pray the “Our Father” by saying: “We dare to pray…” I dare you to pray the “Our Father.”
Prayer: “Abba…” (Mt 6:9, our transl.)
Promise: My Word “shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” —Is 55:11
Praise: St. Perpetua, whose terror was increased by anxiety for her young child, was permitted to hold and nurse him before she was led to her execution.

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