“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
The Carthusians talk about the cross as the still point in the turning world. I like to think that this prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, is another kind of still point. The words of this prayer are the same ones I prayed yesterday, the same words I spoke as an awkward teenager, as a young child, words formed by my infant mouth before I even knew their meaning.
The world keeps turning; I keep growing and changing, but the prayer stays the same. Christ taught it to his disciples who taught it to their disciples, taught it to their families, taught it to anyone who would listen and so it has reached me and you. Like ripples in still water, this prayer has spread out through space and time. It is a prayer said by prisoners before executions and a prayer said by kings before their coronation. A prayer said by humble monks and proud monks, grieving mothers and expectant mothers. It is a prayer being sung, shouted, whispered, groaned, and droned by countless people at this very moment.
Say the words slowly, just once more, and there, in that still point, encounter God’s steadfast and expansive love.
—Cyril Pinchak, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic teaching English at University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, Detroit MI. He is also a published poet.