By Reverend Thomas K. Murphy, O.F.M.

The psalmists of old certainly learned in their own way to pray according to the last phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, since Laments or Deliverance Psalms are by far the largest category of Psalms, comprising over one third of the total.  Most of these are Laments of the individual person.  In these, the psalmists beg God to rise up and pity them, to save and rescue them, to redeem and deliver them from their afflictions.  Their special targets are the wicked – liars, slanderers, bloodthirsty men.  The community Laments direct attention to such unsavory groups as unjust judges, invading nations, and oppressive captors.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus, knowing that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (cf. Mk 14:38b) warned the sleepy disciples to watch and pray.  By the next day, the distraught Apostles had witnessed or heard of the horrendous reality of sin visited upon their beloved Master.  All levels of society in Jerusalem were involved:  The Jewish High Priests, the Roman governor, the soldiers, the fickle populace.  Jesus Christ was executed as a common criminal just outside the wall of the city.

The Apostles themselves had been put to the test of human honor, and they, too, had failed miserably.  At Gethsemane they fell asleep.  As Jesus was being arrested, they all deserted him and fled (cf. Mk 14:50).  At the courtyard of the High Priest, Peter swore, I do not know this man of whom you speak (cf. Mk 14:71).  By their own tragic performance, they found themselves as the poorest and most forlorn of human beings.

Such would have remained their fate had not the God of the Covenant intervened.  God raised Jesus from the dead as the awesome sign of his Son’s conquest of death and sin.  On that day the Risen Jesus appeared to his chastened disciples and eventually appointed them to preach to the whole world the Good News of Redemption from sin and death in Jesus’ Name.

In the concluding phrase of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus warns all his followers who strive to live by the Word of God and who labor to spread the Reign of God among a fallen humanity that our strength in these tasks must be founded not on our natural gifts, but on the mystery of Jesus’ own suffering, death, and resurrection, continually being relived in the growth and spread of the Church.

Depending on the triumphant resurrection of the Lord, we go forth each day in our efforts to pray and to spread the Gospel with the words of the Psalmist:  Then my soul shall rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his deliverance.  All my bones shall say, “O LORD, who is like you, who deliver the weak from him who is too strong for him, the weak and needy from him who despoils him?” (cf. Ps 35:9-10).

By the grace of God and our good will, the Lord’s Prayer and David’s Psalms can teach us to put full Confidence in God our Father, to celebrate his Holy Name, to surrender our lives to his Reign, to seek the guidance of His Will in all our affairs, and to call upon His goodness and power in all our needs, our failures, and our trials.[i]

[i] All scripture references in this article are taken from The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition, Thomas Nelson Publishing for Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2006.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Based on the book, A Pater Noster Psalter:  Praying the Psalms in the Light of the Lord’s Prayer, published by Rev. Thomas K. Murphy, O.F.M. and Pamela E. Nagle, O.F.S., St. Petersburg, Florida, 2016.
[1] All scripture references in this article are taken from The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition, Thomas Nelson Publishing for Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2006.