The Lordís Prayer

Dr Milutin Drobac

 

 

 

Our Father is probably the first prayer we learned by memory. Even the smallest children are heard reciting it in our churches. It is also the most difficult of prayers to understand, in contrast to the simple, yet resonant prayer of the tax collector, God be merciful to me a sinner (Lk 18:13). Our Father was given by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as a prayer to his disciples, who were already imbued with enough spiritual understanding to perceive its deeper meaning. The very first line of the Lordís prayer begs the question, by what right do we call God Father? Many authors have pointed out that to answer this question we must study the Our Father from back to front.

 

We do not put on clean clothes until our body is washed. Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean (Job 14:4). Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes (Is 1:16). Washing comes before dressing. At our baptism our Godparent turns us first to the West and renounces Satan Ė not some undefined and vague concept of evil Ė but the very personification of evil. Get thee hence, Satan (Mat 4:10), Jesus commands, and likewise the Lord cast out not evil, but evil spirits to make Mary Magdalene whole (Lk 8:2). After thrice renouncing Satan, our Godfather turns us to the East, and after our threefold baptismal immersion, we are hymned with For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal 3:27): new clothing on clean bodies. It is for these reasons that we were taught to pray:

Deliver us from the evil one.

 

Thus clothed with the armour of Christ, throughout our lives we enter into tests Ė battles which harden us to resist our enemy. Some are small conflicts, others great wars. When Lot and his family escaped from the city of Sodom, God warned them not to even glance back, but his wife looked back from behind  (Gen 19:26), and she perished. We must not fall prey to the temptation of looking back with desire to the very thing we have just renounced. If the roots of our faith are weak we will in time of temptation fall away (Lk 8:13). Therefore we pray that every temptation we encounter is for our victory and not for our fall.

Lead us not into temptation.

 

How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? (Mat 18:21). Jesus answers Peterís question with likening the Kingdom of Heaven to a master who forgives servants their debts, but this forgiveness is possible only to those servants who have forgiven their debtors. To approach God we must acquire some attributes of godliness ourselves, and understanding this we cry,

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

 

The German philosopher Feuerbach thought he could lay to rest the existence of God when he stated that Man is what he eats. No truer words were spoken, all for the wrong reason. Man eats, but shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Mat 4:4). It is not just a meal a day that we seek, but a meal from which we shall never hunger, we seek the true bread from heaven, which giveth life to the world. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven. I am the bread of life, said our Lord. (Jn 6: 31-35). This bread is the essential substance of life. It is our very next breath, for which we pray:

Give us this day our daily bread.

 

Now we have taken on a little of the Image of God. Dressed in His Image we become his instruments, to do His will here on earth as it is done so perfectly in Heaven. This is all we are asked to do. It is through us that God is manifested on earth. We are not slaves, but free men. We are not compelled but rather delight to do thy will O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart (Ps 40:8). Therefore we pray:

Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

 

When we fulfill Godís will, even in the smallest degree, we sanctify a space within us for His Kingdom. Seek not what ye shall eat Öbut rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you (Lk 12:29-31). Godís Kingdom is promised in this life, for some will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God (Lk 9:27). The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you (Lk 17:21-22). We need only ask:

Thy Kingdom come.

 

Living now with the Kingdom of God filling our heart, we exalt in the Name of the Lord (Ps 34:3). What Name shall we call Him? Do we ask like Moses, What is his name? (Ex 3:13), or do we know like Paul that Christ liveth in me (Gal 2:20).  All of our work and effort result in Christ being formed in us (Gal 4:19). This is the true freedom which delivers us from the yoke of bondage (Gal 5:1) which is offered by the kingdoms of this world. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord ((Ps 105:3).

Hallowed be Thy Name.

 

Glorifying the Name of God we are forced outward beyond the reach of our senses, for His Name cannot be contained. It is written across the universe: The heavens declare the glory of God (Ps 19:1). All this vastness God sustains and nourishes in a never-ending ecstasy of Love: Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens (Ps 36:5). And even these cannot contain Him, for creation is only a work of its Creator: Behold, the heaven and heavens cannot contain thee (1Kg 8:27).

Who art in the heavens.

 

Having been cleansed and clothed in righteousness, our temptations harnessed and our debts forgiven; having received our essential sustenance, fulfilled Godís will on earth and opened our hearts to His Kingdom; having stood in awe at His majestic Name, united to Christ, to Whom we are brothers and sisters by adoption (Gal 4:4-5); having perceived the signature of God across all of creation; we finally  earn the right to cry out:

Our Father.

 

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his son,

into your hearts, crying Abba, Father (Gal 4:6).