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Is it possible to pray the Our Father non-mechanically?

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Philip Kosloski - published on 05/02/24

Sometimes formula prayers like the Our Father can be easy to pray in a mechanical way, without any heartfelt feeling behind it.

One of the primary struggles of many Christians, especially Catholics, is to pray formula prayers with our all of our heart, mind and strength.

It can be too easy to simply go through the motions and to recite prayers as though you were reading a menu at McDonalds.

This can even be the case with the Our Father, the prayer that Jesus himself taught his disciples to pray.

Yet, Jesus did not want his disciples to pray it mechanically, but to do so with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Praying in the Spirit

The Catechism of the Catholic Church comments on this reality in its section on prayer:

But Jesus does not give us a formula to repeat mechanically. As in every vocal prayer, it is through the Word of God that the Holy Spirit teaches the children of God to pray to their Father. Jesus not only gives us the words of our filial prayer; at the same time he gives us the Spirit by whom these words become in us “spirit and life.”

CCC 2766

The Catechism encourages us to invoke the aid of the Holy Spirit whenever we pray, especially when we pray the Our Father:

Prayer needs to be an action that is animated by our own spirit, but also by the Holy Spirit.

We will have a better chance to pray non-mechanically if we invite the Holy Spirit to fill us with a spirit of prayer.

Abba! Father!

Another aspect to keep in mind is that the Our Father should be a prayer of a son or daughter of God.

All prayer needs to be about increasing our relationship with God, calling him, “Father.”

The Catechism further expands upon this reality:

Even more, the proof and possibility of our filial prayer is that the Father “sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying,Abba! Father!'” Since our prayer sets forth our desires before God, it is again the Father, “he who searches the hearts of men,” who “knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” The prayer to Our Father is inserted into the mysterious mission of the Son and of the Spirit.

CCC 2766

Above all we need to realize that if we want our prayer to move from head to heart, we need divine assistance.

God seeks to not only teach us the words to pray, but how to pray with our whole being.

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BibleCCC PrayerPrayer
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