When one of Jesus’s disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, Jesus responded with the Lord’s Prayer (Lk 11:2-4; Mt 6:9-13). In Matthew’s version, the prayer begins with “Our Father.” Jesus chose to begin His prayer with “our,” not with the individual “my.”

Since the first century A.D., there have been countless discussions, works, commentaries, books, and writings of all types about that first word, “our.” For example, centuries ago St. Cyprian of Carthage wrote about Jesus choosing to teach us to say “our” Father, not “my” Father:

Before all things, the Teacher of peace and the Master of unity would not have prayer to be made singly and individually, as for one who prays to pray for himself alone. For we say not My Father, which art in heaven, nor Give me this day my daily bread; nor does each one ask that only his own debt should be forgiven him; nor does he request for himself alone that he may not be led into temptation, and delivered from evil. Our prayer is public and common; and when we pray, we pray not for one, but for the whole people, because we the whole people are one. The God of peace and the Teacher of concord, who taught unity, willed that one should thus pray for all, even as He Himself bore us all in one.”(St. Cyprian, On The Lord’s Prayer).

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