A story most of us have heard countless times: the first grader reciting the Lord's prayer and he says "...Lead us not into Penn Station." We laugh but the reality is this: the young child thought that is what he heard others saying. What did he know about the word "temptation"? But like the young man, we at times recite the Our Father, often with great speed because we recite it so often, and fail to hear it as it was meant to be heard.
Like most prayer, this particular prayer has some ingredients involved. Surely we hear the words as they are correctly said. Our mistake as adults, however, is that we may have heard them so many times that we fail to understand what Jesus meant when he was teaching the disciples how to pray.
When we pray, isn't it almost always an exercise in hope? We hope to gain what we are asking the Father to grant us. So often, too, our prayer to the Father is for forgiveness. We pray with the hope that the Father will grant us amazing graces to get through challenges to our moral and ethical ways of life.
Recently, after all my years, I learned that a leg torn from the body of the star fish will grow back ... just time is needed. All we have to do is pray "...forgive us our trespasses" and we are healed; we are regifted with God's love, God's blessings.
Likewise the Our Father is a prayer built upon courage. Did you know that is a part of the strength for which you pray: "...forgive us our trespasses...." Sometimes we come to realize that what we ask is truly a challenge. Do I recognize that I am praying to bring an end to what is sin in my life? Mightn't that bring some to say, "Well, Father, I am not sure that I am that strong yet." Let's be honest!
But when we pray "...that thy will be done ..." are we not surrendering what we do not need, what may separate us from God to his will? And when we pray "...Thy kingdom come, we are not making a spectacular leap from the springboard into the pool of God's graces. We are leaving our kingdom to become enveloped by the kingdom of God ... if we are strong enough.
So, the Our Father, recited so often, may contain many different trace. Let us pray that we recognize the need to take the track to God's kingdom rather than to "Penn Station."