Saint Therese and the Our Father prayer


“A Christian who says the Our Father day by day with gradually increasing fervor, who says it from the bottom of his heart, for others as well as for himself, undoubtedly cooperates very much in the divine governance” (Father Garrigou-Lagrange)

Here is an easy way to meditate on the Our Father prayer, simply by saying it very slowly, very meditatively. We might say that the Our Father prayer contains an infinite amount of wisdom for leading the spiritual life – seeing that it comes from the very lips of Jesus Christ, the WORD made flesh. As the Catechism says, “The Lord’s Prayer is truly the summary of the whole Gospel” (CCC 2761).

There is no requirement here of having to be a meditation guru! Meditation in the Christian sense is a deeper application of our understanding – with the help of grace –  to the considerations and petitions present in the Our Father prayer. In other words it is a deeper reflection on the profound meaning of the prayer.

The method of meditation recommended here comes from Saint Teresa of Avila who simply urges us to say the Our Father prayer very slowly. As we say the prayer slowly we have time to reflect on its profound meaning and application to our lives. I remember reading about a saint who could never get past the first line of the Our Father: as soon as she said, “Our Father,” she got caught up in the loving realization that God is our Father!

Father Garrigou Lagrange states:

“Let us every day say the Our Father slowly and with great attention; let us meditate upon it, with love accompanying our faith.

This loving meditation will become contemplation, which will ensure for us the hallowing and glorifying of God’s name both in ourselves and in those about us, the coming of His kingdom and the fulfillment of His will here on earth as in heaven. It will obtain for us also the forgiveness of our sins and deliverance from evil, as well as our sanctification and salvation” (Providence, Chapter 18).

Sister Janet Schaeffler, O.P., relates the following:

“St. Ignatius suggested to those who were searching to grow in prayer to pray the Our Father very slowly and silently in harmony with the pattern of deep, relaxed breathing. Pray only one word with each slow breath, letting the mind, heart and
imagination dwell on that single word.

St. Ignatius also suggested a second method: become relaxed and dwell on the first word of the Our Father, for as long as it is meaningful. Then, move on to the second word. (A young novice once asked Teresa of Avila, “Mother, what shall I do to
become a contemplative?’ Without missing a beat, Teresa responded, ‘Say the Our Father – but take an hour to say it.’).”

Saint Therese of Lisieux states: “Sometimes when I am in such a state of spiritual dryness that not a single good thought occurs to me, I say very slowly the ‘Our Father,’ or the ‘Hail Mary,’ and these prayers suffice to take me out of myself, and wonderfully refresh me.”

Conclusion: Saying the Our Father prayer very slowly, very meditatively is bound to do a “good work in your soul.” A good source for further reflection on this important prayer is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (see CCC 2761-2865). But simply by praying the Our Father very slowly, very reflectively, with love in your heart for God, you will be meditating in a very effective manner!

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

References: The quote from Sister Schaeffler is from her article, “Praying and Living the Our Father,” (available online). See also my post:

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