Jesus’ disciples requested, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Lk. 11:1). Those who asked understood, even before St. Paul wrote, that “we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Rom. 8:26). The response, commonly known as the Our Father, is the “fundamental Christian prayer” (CCC 2759). It contains every element of a perfect prayer. Yet, in its beauty and simplicity, one essential aspect of the Our Father’s foundation is often overlooked: the virtue of humility.
Holy Mother Church announces that “humility is the foundation of prayer” (CCC 2559). If humility is the virtue on which all prayer is founded, it is reasonable to conclude that humility is the very root and foundation of the Our Father. If people are able to make this connection, they will be able to identify the presence of humility in every line of the prayer; and they will also gain a fuller understanding of this seminal virtue.
Humility is present in the first exclamation, “Our Father,” which is an admission that “no one knows the Father except the son…” (Mt. 11:27; cf. CCC 2779). Further, humility is present in the recognition that the Father is “in Heaven,” which means that He is “majestic” and His dwelling “transcends everything we can conceive” (CCC 2794). The seven petitions that follow are imbued with humility because that virtue is at the heart of these first two statements.