When Jesus’ disciples ask Him to teach them how to pray, He obliges. It is not a technique, nor does it offer grandiloquence-quite the contrary. It is remarkable for brevity, simplicity, and direct exposure of His heart. The teaching of the prayer amounts to an invitation into His relation to His Father. With His death this shared indwelling becomes a salvific reality.
Jesus prays to God as His ‘Abba’, ‘daddy.’ Its intimacy is surprising. Again, post-resurrection, it is the core of which, came Trinitarian reflection.
Throughout, the prayer assumes the coming of the Kingdom. It lies wholly in God’s hands, but we implore Him to bring it now- ‘maranatha’ ‘come Lord,’ was an early Christian cry. The life of the Kingship of God is marked by forgiveness, radical dependence of Him, surrender of self-which also mark the life of Jesus Himself.
Still we realize that the life of faith means testing, especially the risk of abandoning or betraying Him, of despair ‘temptation’. We realize that, though God will prevail, for now the world contains malign forces. But in the end the victory will be God’s, which has the last word in the prayer as well.
The New Testament scholar C.H. Dodd noted the similarity of the prayer to Jesus’ travail in the Garden of Gethsemane- Abba, trial, forgiveness. Freed by His suffering, we disciples in our lives, out of gratitude, join Him there.