In today’s Gospel Jesus teaches us how to pray. First of all, He tells us not to “babble like the pagans.” These pagans think that they need to use all sorts of words, titles, and magical formulas to get the gods to listen to them. Jesus’ instruction is simple: “Do not be like them.” Just call on God with the simple, trusting, and childlike word, Abba, Father. Jesus prays to God as Abba so should we: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will” (Mark 14:36). Jesus, the Son of God, prays that the Father’s Will comes even before his own will.
St. Paul teaches us that God inspires us to pray and even gives us the words to use: “God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Galatians 4:6). The initiative to pray comes not from us but from the holy Spirit, the spirit of God’s Son. When we pray, we are not alone, we are not only speaking to God but God is speaking in us and through us.
The rest of the Our Father brings out this God-centered prayer: “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.” We trustingly ask God to forgive us and empower us to forgive ourselves so that we can forgive one another: “Forgive us our trespasses.”
Finally, we pray: “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Pope Francis suggests that the English translation is not correct: “It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation…I am the one who falls. It’s not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen.”