The Lord's Prayer (Part III)

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My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.  

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THE LORD'S PRAYER (Part III)
By Archimandrite George, Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Holy Monastery of Saint Gregorios, Holy Mountain

"Our Father..."

It is characteristic that our Lord teaches us to address God not only Father, but as our Father, not my Father. Thus, he deters us from a selfish relationship with God. There is God and us, not God and I. Thus our heart 'embraces' all our fellow men who are by nature our brethren, due to our common origin from God, the Father. Our heart also embraces all Orthodox Christians who, due to our common faith and common birth from the same spiritual 'womb' of the Church, the Holy Font, are in addition our brethren by Grace and by Spirit.

How can God be your Father, if you do not accept your fellow men as your brethren, especially those of the same faith?

"The Lord teaches us", writes Saint John Chrysostom, "to pray for all people", to mention in our supplication about the common body and not to pursue at all our personal interests, but on every occasion to pursue the interests of our fellow man. Thus, man avoids hate, he bridles imprudence, he emits envy, he brings about love, the mother of all goods, and he exiles abnormality of human things and shows that the equality of rank between the king and the poor is very great, since we all partake in the same greatest and the most necessary gifts of our God.

By accepting to be called Father of us all, He gave to all of us the same noble origin, and consequently equality. Thus, we are united and no one possesses more than the other, neither the rich from the poor, neither the lord from the slave, neither the ruler from the reigned, neither the king from the soldier, neither the philosopher from the barbarian, neither the wise from the illiterate one" (ibid, p. 669).

As we shall see further on, the rest of the petitions of the Lord's Prayer help us overcome our morbid individualism, our self-centeredness, and our selfishness. They help us open our heart and offer ourselves to Go the Father, and to our brethren. That is to say, they help us to obtain love towards God, which is inseparably linked to benevolence and brotherly love.

[Please note: I encourage those of you interested in understanding the Lord's Prayer from the Orthodox Christian perspective to purchase the book The Lord's Prayer by Archimandrite George of the Monastery of Saint Gregorios of Mt. Athos. It was printed in July 2001. However, I feel it is important to bring to your attention the explanation of "...And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil one"]:

And do not allow us, O Lord, to fall into temptation, but deliver us from evil (or evil one). According to Saint Maximus the Confessor, the temptations are of two kinds: those which bring pleasure and those which bring pain. The first ones are voluntary and give birth to the passions. The second ones are involuntary and banish the passions. We must avoid the voluntary ones. We must not seek the involuntary ones and must always loathe them because we are weak and might submit to them. When they come, though, we must bear them with courage as 'purifiers' of the soul.

In reference to the subject of the painful temptations, Saint Nicodemos the Hagiorite notes, "God, acting in sympathy towards our hardships and evil tendency, allows the temptations, which can sometimes be very horrible and awful, to come to us in various ways, so that we be humbled and obtain self-awareness, even though all these temptations seem useless to us. In this way, God shows at the same time His benevolence and His wisdom because we benefit even more from what seems to us more harmful because we are humbled, which is what our soul needs more than anything else".

By teaching us not to pursue the temptations, says Saint John Chrysostom, the Lord educates us to be aware of our weakness and in this way He bridles the self-conceit, the pride. However, when temptations come against our will, then we must face them with bravery, "in order to show our bravery and our lack of vanity".

Saint John Chrysostom also notes that the Lord doesn't say 'from the evil ones', that is to say from evil people, but 'from the evil one', that is to say from the devil. The Lord does this to teach us not to lay the blame on and bear a grudge towards people who distress us, but to lay the blame on the devil who incites them. He calls the devil, evil, "Ordering us to fight against him without truce". Furthermore, he does this to show us that wickedness (evil) is not a natural condition, but the result of bad intention. (Source: The book The Lord's Prayer by Archimandrite George of the Holy Monastery of Saint Gregorios - Mt. Athos)

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"-- Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George