Why the “Our Father” is a pro-life prayer
The Lord gave us the “Our Father” as the model of all prayer, and in each line we receive insight as to why we are pro-life. Prayer itself is inherently pro-life because it puts God at the center of our lives and choices. The “pro-choice” mentality, instead, puts us at the center.
“Our Father.” There is one Father of us all, the one who gives both divine life and the natural human life which is its pre-requisite. The Father is the Creator, and if he is “our” Father, then that means we are all brothers and sisters in one human family.
One Father entrusts to us the care of each other. We are to seek the good of one another. This is why Paul exhorts us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep, and to bear one another’s burdens. The first way we do that is to safeguard the most basic good each person has – life itself.
“Who art in Heaven.” The Lord’s prayer reminds us of our true home. If our Father is in heaven, then that is our home, too. Heaven is full union with God and with one another; it is, in short, the fullness of life. We pray to the Father in heaven as we long to be there ourselves. Yet that longing does not diminish our concern for building a better world here. Rather, it energizes that concern, which translates into building the culture of life.
“Hallowed be thy name.” When the People of God live in a way that reflects the holiness, justice, truth and love of God himself, then God’s name is honored. In other words, God’s people give God a good reputation, and the word “Christian” is something people want to identify with.
But when God’s people are unfaithful, God’s name is dishonored. This is what happens when God’s people turn the other way and ignore (or sometimes participate in) the abortions that kill thousands of babies every day. This dishonors both the rights of that child and the name of God.
“Hallowed be thy name,” through our commitment to life. “Hallowed be thy name,” through the sacrifice we make to defend life, and the care we give to mother and child alike.
“Thy Kingdom Come!” When Jesus began his preaching he declared that the Kingdom of God had come among us. The kingdom, indeed, is already here. The Kingdom is Jesus himself, united with his members who, together with him, make up his Body, the Church.
Yet the kingdom is not yet here in all its completion. It continues to grow, and it continues to strive against many enemies.
God’s Kingdom, as the liturgy says, is a kingdom “of truth and life, of holiness and grace, of justice, love and peace.” This kingdom defines the culture of life, where the unborn and frail are welcomed and protected. Each time we pray the Our Father, let our longing for that kingdom increase.
“Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Union with the will of God is the heart of salvation and the essence of holiness. It is also the cornerstone of the culture of life. To say, “thy will be done” is the opposite of saying, “my will be done; it’s all up to my choice.”
When we see a child living in the womb, we see the will of God. The Lord never makes human beings by accident. Each child exists precisely because God wants that child to exist, no matter what the circumstances surrounding his or her existence.
When we say “Thy will be done,” we are expressing confidence that because God says yes to the child, so can we. He will give us all the strength we need to follow his plan.
We pray, furthermore, that his will be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” In heaven, the angels and saints are perfectly united with God because they see him as he is. One who sees God face to face cannot sin, because it is unmistakably clear that there is no good that surpasses God himself.
Many acknowledge “God” and yet go ahead and abort their children, because here on Earth, our vision is clouded and imperfect. Hence in the Lord’s Prayer we ask that we not be misled to think that anything good can come from offending God.
“Give us this day our daily bread.” We ask the Father for the provisions we need each day to live and to serve him. We ask him for the spiritual strength to resist the temptations that will certainly come our way, and for the grace to advance his Kingdom.
This also means we are praying for the graces we need to advance the protection of human life. We may be tempted to compromise with the culture of death. We ask for the daily bread of strength to defend life, to speak up for the helpless, to intervene to save the weak. We pray also that those tempted to abort their children because of economic reasons may experience the help of God’s people, the daily bread of their generosity.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We are asking the Lord to use us as an example of how readily and generously he should forgive our sins. He is more eager to forgive our sins than we are. This should not only give us confidence, but should help us inspire confidence in those who despair.
One of the hardest sins to confess is abortion. And even there, the Lord is ready to pour out his mercy on those who repent. Nothing can minimize the horror of abortion, and nothing can justify it. Yet countless people come each day to the cross where they find that even this sin is washed away in the Blood of Christ.
“Lead us not into temptation.” Every temptation is a lie that makes something evil look good. Among the most masterful temptations of the evil one is to make the killing of a child seem better than the birth of that child. This is the lie that leads each day to thousands of abortions.
As we pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” we keep in mind the need to protect all pregnant mothers from the deception of abortion. We also pray against the temptation to be silent and passive in the midst of this holocaust. Sins of omission are the most frequent sins, especially in regard to the culture of death. As we pray “lead us not into temptation,” we resolve to say more, do more, and sacrifice more for life!
“Deliver us from evil.” In asking this, we are not asking to be delivered from some vague force or bad luck. Rather, we are asking to be delivered from the influence and power of a real person, the devil, also known as the evil one. His kingdom of death has been defeated, and so his power is limited, but he still seeks to lead us astray.
When we pray to be delivered from the evil one, we are praying to be delivered from the culture of death, and to stay faithful to Christ’s Kingdom of Life. We are praying that we will not be deceived by the false promises of the evil one, who presents abortion as a solution to a problem, though it is no such thing.
“For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever.”
The Lord’s Prayer culminates with these beautiful words which, in the Catholic tradition, we pray at Mass shortly after the rest of the prayer. In “The Gospel of Life,” Pope John Paul II wrote that human life is always a good because it reflects the glory of God. God is glorified when human beings live, because they are made in his image and likeness. In attributing all glory to God, therefore, we acknowledge the infinite value of life.
All power, furthermore, belongs to the Lord. Jesus said he had the “power” to lay down his life. That is the power of love, by which we sacrifice ourselves for the good of the other person. Abortion, instead, sacrifices the other person for the “good” of oneself. Abortion is the opposite of love. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us what real power is.
“Amen.” St. Paul proclaims that Christ is the Amen, the yes, to all the promises of God. Abortion is just the opposite. It is a big “no” to God’s plans for the child who has been conceived, and for all of us who are called to love that child rather than kill him.
The Lord’s Prayer is, indeed, the model for all prayer, and it is the model for all our striving for a Culture of Life!