Jesus said: “This is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
This is the only prayer (that we know of) that Jesus taught his apostles. Consequently, it is precious and calls for much meditation and contemplation. One immediate thing that should strike us, but for some reason doesn’t even though we have prayed this hundreds of times, is that the entire prayer is not the supplication of an individual seeking blessings for himself, but for everybody. I don’t pray just for myself; when I say this prayer, I am also praying for my brothers and sisters.
This cuts across *all* divides because only the Christian can make this prayer. So whenever I recite this prayer, beginning by saying, “Our Father,” I am acknowledging two things. One, I am a child of the Father; two, every other believer is also a child of the Father. This attests to what John wrote about in his gospel: “But to all who received (Jesus), who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12).
So, if I acknowledge this, then every other Christian is my brother and sister. Brothers and sisters should care for each other, which is why when I ask God to bless me, I ask God to bless them as well. Give *us* today our daily bread. Forgive *us* our sins. Do not bring *us* to the test. Deliver *us* from the evil one. Now, you might say, I know this; what’s the big deal? The big deal is that if we know this, why are we always fighting with each other? Why are we constantly trying to pull others down?
Even when it comes to sins — a truly personal matter, if there was any; I mean, I am the one committing the sins — I am told not to ask for forgiveness only for myself, but for the forgiveness of all of us. Why? Because we are one body, and like Paul said, “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
My faith is not just a matter of establishing a relationship between my God and me. It is about establishing a relationship with each other as well, with God in the center. Until we realize this and start to work towards building such relationships, we will continue to perpetuate divides. And if we are divided, then we are not really part of Christ, no matter what we claim, which might mean we are not really Christian.
Our Father. Really?
May the Spirit be with you.