BITE-SIZE THEOLOGY (239): What are the last three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer?

Rev. José Mario O. Mandía


The CCCC (594) explains: “By asking God the Father to pardon us, we acknowledge before him that we are sinners. At the same time we proclaim his mercy because in his Son and through the sacraments ‘we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’ (Colossians 1:14). Still our petition will be answered only if we for our part have forgiven first.”

When we acknowledge that we are sinners, we are praying like the tax collector in the parable who went to the Temple to pray. “But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’” (Luke 18:13). Jesus assures us: “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other” (Luke 18:14). Who was “the other” that Jesus was referring to? The Pharisee, who stood proudly before God.

Commenting on this petition, Pope Francis said, “What is the most dangerous attitude for every Christian life? It is pride. It is the attitude of those who stand before God thinking that they always have their affairs in order with him: the proud think they have everything in order” (General Audience, 10 April 2019).

But there is a condition for receiving forgiveness: we have to be ready to forgive. “Mercy can penetrate our hearts only if we ourselves learn how to forgive – even our enemies” (CCCC 595). The Compendium continues: “Now even if it seems impossible for us to satisfy this requirement, the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit can, like Christ, love even to love’s extreme; it can turn injury into compassion and transform hurt into intercession. Forgiveness participates in the divine mercy and is a high-point of Christian prayer.” Did not our Lord say, “Pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45)?

But what if we find it hard to forgive? Then we should pray, “Lord, teach me how to forgive! Teach me to be merciful! Let me share in your compassion! Let me pray like you did on the Cross: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).”


The words of the prayer might make us think that God sets traps that lead us to sin. But we have seen that God is Father, and no father will ever put his children in danger. Thus, the CCCC (596) explains the true intent of this prayer: “We ask God our Father not to leave us alone and in the power of temptation. We ask the Holy Spirit to help us know how to discern, on the one hand, between a trial that makes us grow in goodness and a temptation that leads to sin and death and, on the other hand, between being tempted and consenting to temptation. This petition unites us to Jesus who overcame temptation by his prayer. It requests the grace of vigilance and of final perseverance.”

Let us pray with Pope Francis: “Deliver us, thus, O God, from the time of trial and temptation. But when this time arrives for us, Our Father, show us that we are not alone. You are the Father. Show us that Christ has already taken upon himself the weight of that cross too. Show us that Jesus calls us to carry it with him, abandoning ourselves trustfully to your Fatherly love” (General Audience, 1 May 2019).


In this last petition of the Lord’s Prayer, the Compendium (597) teaches: “‘Evil’ indicates the person of Satan who opposes God and is ‘the deceiver of the whole world’ (Revelation 12:9). Victory over the devil has already been won by Christ. We pray, however, that the human family be freed from Satan and his works. We also ask for the precious gift of peace and the grace of perseverance as we wait for the coming of Christ who will free us definitively from the Evil One.”

Pope Benedict XVI, in a gathering with Cardinals, admitted: “We see how evil wishes to dominate in the world and that it is necessary to fight against evil. We see that it does so in so many ways: cruelty, through the different forms of violence, but even disguised as good and thereby undermining the moral foundations of society….

“Let us move ahead, the Lord said: courage, I have conquered the world. We are on the Lord’s team, hence on the winning team” (Luncheon with Cardinals, 21 May 2012).


“We are on the winning team” and we are sure of victory if we stay with God, our Father, if we persevere and struggle to say “Yes” to Him always and everywhere. That’s what “Amen” means – Yes, Dad!!!

“At the end of the prayer, you say ‘Amen’ and thus you ratify by this word that means ‘so be it’ all that is contained in this prayer that God has taught us” (Saint Cyril of Jerusalem) (CCCC 598).