How to Avoid Folly!

Proverbs 18:2
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

One of the things we seldom notice is the way in which Jesus structured the Lord’s Prayer.  The purpose of the prayer is to teach as well as to give us a vehicle for asking for things and speaking our minds.  And notably, the Prayer gives a distinct back seat to all the petitionary clauses where we are usually so eager to start our prayer life.  Long before we ever get to “Give us this day our daily bread” or “Deliver us from evil” we are urged to take a good long look at God for who He is, rather than to start with what we think and say and need.  When we do that, we find Our Father is hallowed.  He is more important than anything else.  It is His kingdom, not our wish list, which matters.  It is His will that must be done, not ours.  And so, in learning the Lord’s Prayer, we learn the right order of things and are taught a bit about how not to be fools.  Today, as you pray, put God first.  Praise Him, ask for His will to be done and seek His face.  There’s plenty of time for our petitions, understanding and opinions.  But they aren’t the most important things.  He is.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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  • Grandpa Tom

    “Lord, teach us how to pray …(Lk.11:1.)” The Lord’s Prayer is presented to us in the Gospel of Luke, and Matthew. The Catholic Church has adopted the Matthew version for prayer (Matt. 6:9-15). In the Lord’s prayer, the words were given to Jesus from the Father, making it the only prayer that is not invented by a human mind. Romans 8:26 says the human mind “does not know how to pray as it ought.” In the Lord’s prayer we are shoulder to shoulder with Jesus as our big brother, and as a child of God, this is why we are taught to say “Our Father.” The Lord’s Prayer in the Matthew version has Seven Petitions. The first three petitions are where we recognize, praise, and glorify the name of the Father, and we are strengthened by faith, hope, and charity. The last four petitions are “we” petitions, and are concerned with our hopes, needs, and hardships. Pope Benedict XVI, in his book ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ says “because the Our Father is a prayer of Jesus, it is a Trinitarian prayer: we pray with Christ through the Holy Spirit to the Father (p.135)” For more information on the Seven Petitions see: Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI; Chapter Five, pages 128-168. Also see: Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph # 2759 – 2865. The Seven Petitions are explored in depth, and give deep meaning to the purpose of each individual petition.