Please Feel Free to Download a copy of The Lord's Prayer and Explanations.
Prayer. "When you are praying, do not behave like the hypocrites who love to stand and pray in synagogues or on street corners in order to be noticed. I give you my word, they are already re-paid. Whenever you pray, go to your room, close your door, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees what no man sees, will repay you."
In your prayer do not rattle on like the pagans. They think they will win a hearing by the sheer multiplication of words. Do not imitate them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray:
'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread,
and forgive us the wrong we have
as we forgive those who wrong us. Subject us not to the trial
but deliver us from the evil one.',
"If you forgive the faults of others, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours. If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you.
Our Lord taught His disciples how to pray when they asked Him how to best commune with our heavenly Father. To their pleasant surprise, He prescribes for them the perfect prayer, described since then as the "Our Father" because it contains words fashioned after the heart and soul of Jesus which open for us communion with the eternal Father, the Lord and Creator of our souls and bodies. Our Lord teaches us "The Father, who sent me has himself borne witness to me" John 5: 37. Then again, He says, "He that has seen me has seen the Father" John 14: 9. What Jesus is, that is what the Father is, too. In other words, as the common adage has it, "like Father, like Son!" In what is popularly known as the "Lord's Prayer, because it was given to us by the Lord Himself, the spirit of man is directed to the Father. We say "Our Father" as we begin. Christ referred many times to "My Father" Matthew 10: 32,11: 27; Luke 9: 59,10: 22; John 5: 17, 6: 32.
Jesus doubtless thought of Himself in a very deep and complete sense as the Son of the living, loving God, the eternal Father, Who commissioned Him for the salvation of mankind in the world. Yet He also thought of God not only as His own personal Father, but as the Father of all mankind as well, making Himself thereby our beloved brother. Hence He teaches us to pray as He begins with "Our Father." With this we have a tremendous realization that everyone who joins in true prayer thinks of Him as the common ground and basis for the life of all His children upon the earth. He is Our Father, not simply my Father, or your Father alone. He is our common Father and this acceptance and understanding is most important in our prayer life. It means we are all His children, equal and alike, equal in sinful inclination and alike in our preference for evil over good. We are therefore brothers and sisters united in filial relationship to Him because we all equally need the salvation and redemption which He alone can provide.
The implication for our life is that if God is the Source of life for all, the Father of all, the person next door is as much God's child as we ourselves are. It means that we all have a personal responsibility to our heavenly Father. The will of our heavenly Father is for our salvation and eternal happiness, so we cannot be a cross purposes with Him. Christ always submitted to the will of the Father because He was of the same will and mind. Both directed their unified wills to save sinful mankind. When we submit ourselves to the will of the eternal Father, it does not reduce us to zeroes, or annihilate our free will or damage our autonomy of thought and purpose. But it does mean the special talents and gifts God the Father imparts to us are employed in conjunction with talents of all others in God's family for our common salvation.
An intellectual and academic good idea of God as Father will never suffice. If we really believe in God Whom Jesus totally and completely revealed, we must needs act. as sons and daughters of the Creator and Source of life. Believers are delighted with this prayer because addressing God as Father fulfills the need of more than human reinforcement. We need to lift up our hearts toward a power beyond ourselves. We are many times like the fountain pen which has enough ink to keep writing for a period of time, but inevitably the time comes when the ink supply is exhausted. As children of God, we cannot continue unceasingly on mere human energy, or function without running dry in the end.
We are so created that reinforcement needs to come to us from the Source of our being, which is God our Father. If we are to remain spiritually alive, to be a spiritual force, we recognize the strength we need comes from the Source of life, from the Source of love itself. Because God is our Father, we can depend on Him inspiring us to continually seek "his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be yours as well" Matthew 6: 33. Because our God is perfect, He counsels us to similar perfection. This is because we are His offspring, His adopted children. This is not at all idle dreaming, or a hope for the impossible. His invitation draws us to fix our gaze on how we ought to be, how we were first created in paradise with Adam and Eve, and how now again with the grace of the Father, we can work to restore our original beauty and rightful image. It requires a real spiritual awareness and personal honesty to see ourselves as children of our heavenly Father, to know we have a loving, consoling and eternal Father, to know what we ought to be doing to change ourselves back into what we were originally created.
It means we let God's purpose pull us forward, draw us upward, to become ever more closely attentive to Him. And like our earthly fathers who want only the best for us, our heavenly Father also challenges us as He did in the Old Covenant and as Christ repeated so many times before His listeners: "Be holy because I your God am holy!" Leviticus 19: 2. We are very much aware we destroy the holiness and grace within us when we sin and separate ourselves willingly from His loving embrace. The most meaningful analogy of our Christian vocation was given us by St. Paul in the epistle lesson read for the feast of the Lord's Nativity.
In the Old Covenant it was only a deeply felt wish, an ardent aspiration, a hope and desire not fully possible until the coming of Christ among us. Now it can and does happen. "When the fullness of time came, God sent his son ... that we might receive the adoption of sons and because we are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying out: 'Abba Father' So that he is no longer a slave to sin, but a son and if a son, an heir of God through Jesus Christ" Galatians 4: 6. What a sublime dignity we have as children of God. What a blessing! What an encouraging challenge! Let us go forth in this season of the Great Fast and use the grace of the sacramental Mystery of Chrismation to live up to it! Let us enjoy fully the grace of God being our Father to Whom we always ascribe all glory, honor and adoration with the Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever Amen!
Who Art In Heaven
As we enter more deeply into the meaning of the Lord's Prayer, we come to understand better its ramifications and implications. While our Lord teaches us that the usual and pre-eminent place which our God occupies is that state of beatitude and eternal life, heaven, we also know from what our Saviour taught us that God is perfect Spirit, and therefore is everywhere present as the hymn to the Holy Spirit emphasizes. All God's revelation to us in Scripture teaches us and proclaims He is among us who believe in Him. Not only is our God in heaven, but He is in each of us who have been baptized. He is in His Word, the Scripture which reveals Him to us. He exists in the life of His Church which shall endure because even the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. He is in the Eucharist on the altar in the reserved sacramental Mystery.
Having understood this, we come to realize we cannot limit the presence of our God. But Christ specifically mentions "heaven," so we shall think about this place of our common destiny as believers. Generally speaking, all thought and speculation on heaven cannot be profound in relation to its objective reality and truth. It resembles a child's pondering thoughts and questionings on things far beyond its powers of comprehension and reminds us of St. Paul's words, "When I was a child, I used to talk like a child, reason like a child, think like a child" 1 Corinthians 13: 11. And it is true that we are literally children when we are confronted with the immensity of the glory of heaven. We have a foretaste of heaven here on earth because it is present wherever the torrent of divine life streams into the soul endowed with sanctifying grace. However, this is just a little stream of light compared to the glory of the sun. And heaven is not so much a place as it is a state, a state of inexpressible and intimate union with almighty God. That is why our Lord insists that the kingdom of heaven is already among us in the life of His Body, the Church. We can experience that pre-taste of heaven here and now if we follow the Lord and His commands in the life of the Church.
Since perfect happiness and bliss is not confined alone to the soul, it flows into the body as well. Since the body operates in God's service in its brief existence, it will also share in the glory afterwards. Complete beatitude in heaven will be imparted to human beings, soul and glorified body. "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will bring your mortal bodies to life also, through his spirit dwelling in you" Romans 8: 11. To give us an idea of the splendor of the glorified body, the Apostle Paul compares it with the beauty of the glorified body of Jesus Christ, "He will give a new form to this lowly body of ours and remake it according to the pattern of His glorified body by His power to subject everything to himself" Philippians 3: 21. The book of Revelation tells us that "He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more mourning, or crying out or pain, for the former world has passed away" Revelation 21: 4. Then it says once again, "Never again shall they know hunger or thirst, nor shall the sun or its heat beat down on them" Revelation 7: 16. The glorified body will possess the quality of spirituality, so that while the form and dimensions remain, it is enabled to pass not only through space, but through solid substances which are naturally impenetrable to it, in the same manner sun rays pass through glass. Our risen Saviour has shown us this by passing through the rock which covered His tomb and by entering the closed Mystical Supper room where the twelve were gathered out of fear of the Jews.
In the book of Isaiah, we find the description of the agility of the bodies of the blessed: "They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagle's wings; they will run and not grow weary, Walk and not grow faint" Isaiah 40: 31. According to the saints, we shall be gifted with a swiftness like that of an angel, who in a moment can come down from heaven to earth and as quickly return to heaven. St. Augustine shares an insight with us: "Wherever the spirit wishes to go, the body will presently be" Elementary Catechism. Our divine Saviour Himself taught us, "The saints will shine like the sun in their Father's house" Matthew 13: 43. St. Ephrem Syrian calls the sun the greatest splendor that may be imagined by the human mind here on earth, and he was of the opinion that the elect in heaven far surpass the sun in brightness, in splendor. This brightness does not dazzle or bewilder, but rejoices and delights the soul because it is a sign of its blessed virtue in the sight of God.
The name itself, Paradise, which Scripture as well as the Fathers of the Church employ for heaven, give some hint of the attractiveness of that state of being. It can be presented as a garden of ravishing beauty, bounded with delights that proceed from God, a garden of perpetual spring time, painted in lively and gorgeous colors. None of our capacities will go ungratified. The glorified and transformed body will be refined and spiritualized beyond our imagining; glorified conditions will be presented so that the words of the Apostle find application: "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him" 1 Corinthians 2: 9. So, we can never really appreciate the sensible joys of heaven by the senses we know and experience in this earthly life.
And what happiness and what bliss will our eyes bring us as they feast on the sight of the countenance of the most glorious and holy of all the sons of man? Faithful Orthodox Christians will be enraptured by the sight of the exalted beauty of the Mother of God and all the saints, who in unison with the angelic bodiless powers shout out in a loud voice, "Salvation is from our God, who is seated on the throne and from the Lamb! ... Praise and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving and honor, power and might, to our God forever and ever" Revelation 7: 10, 12!
If we would see this vision now, we would not be able to bear it. Our body, like an earthen vessel, would break to pieces for excessive joy. The hearing of the blessed will be unceasingly refreshed by heavenly melody and praise from God. St. Augustine witnesses that "Happy, truly happy shall I be in eternity if it is permitted me to hear these celestial melodies and hymns of praise. Blessed and again blessed shall I consider myself if I may join in and praise my God, my King, my Lord, for all eternity. Confessions. The blessed shall see the face of God in heaven: "I assure you, their angels in heaven constantly behold my heavenly Father's face" Matthew 18: 10. We will come to know and appreciate the infinity and perfection of God. We will see God as He is, face to face. "...for we shall see him as he is" 1 John 3: 2, "then we shall see face to face" 1 Corinthians 13: 12. The blessed in heaven love one another; they are united by the love of God because it is love that marks the children of the eternal kingdom from the children of perdition. Joy unspeakable will enter our soul as it recognizes its loved ones, relatives, friends in that blessed place. The joy experienced by those saved and redeemed in Christ can never be wrestled from them. It will never abandon them, "...your hearts will rejoice with a joy no one can take from you" John 16:22.
For those justified before our heavenly Father, heaven begins here and now, on earth, in the life of His Body, the Church. Those who seek eternal joy already have it. The just have true peace. "Then God's peace, which is beyond all understanding will stand guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4: 7. Here on earth those who are committed to Christ are joyful in adversity. "Blessed are those persecuted for holiness sake; the kingdom of God is theirs" Matthew 5: 10. In the midst of suffering for the teaching of Christ, we are reminded, "Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven" Matthew 5: 11, 12.
In heaven, there will be understanding surpassing everything we know today, love, wonder, joy and every day will be the same forever. This shall be the state of those accounted worthy of the Resurrection to eternal life; where the body is no longer a servant, but a partner with God; where it shall not have any work of its own, but shall rejoice with the soul; where it shall bask in the presence of God's infinite beauty, while the soul shall rule without resistance; in this great place where we shall be fitted to see and enjoy and reign triumphantly with our God Who is Lord and loving Father.
Hallowed Be Your Name
After we address Our Father and make clear Who it is we are speaking to and placing our hope in, we are impelled to recognize that His Name itself and all about Him is holy. "Hallowed be Your Name" means for us who believe that everything about our God is special, distinct, and holy. He is unique in all creation not only because He is the Source of all that we see around us, but because He alone is without blemish and sin. Because we lack these glorious qualities of our Creator, we are sinners, we are different and apart from Him, however much we may aspire after holiness. He alone is perfect and maintains this integrity forever. Consequently, all that is associated with Him, particularly His Name, should be treated with respect and devotion.
In the old Covenant, it was the custom of the Jews never to even say or pronounce the sacred name of God, "Jahweh,", the "I am" with which He revealed Himself to Moses, the Lawgiver (Exodus 3: 13 - 25). This was to guard against the defilement of the all descriptive name of His nature and being, and to safeguard against transgression of the commandment: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain" Exodus 20: 7. If we bandy about the holy name of our God, we will in time have no respect for God Himself, Whom it represents and describes! In the New Testament, our God gives Jesus the "name which is above every name" Philippians 2: 9, and in recognizing the name of the Father as holy, Christians do so in the name of His Son because they are united in faith and soul to Him. The spiritual life which we are called to live and fulfill in the same way Jesus did means every day activity in communion with God.
And it refers not only to the activity of man's spirit or soul alone, but includes his mind, his heart as well as the soul, the whole of his daily living as inspired and guided by the Spirit of God. Every act of man must be a spiritual act. Every thought of the body, every action, every word, every deed, every activity of the believing person must resonate holiness. This means that all a person thinks, says and does must be inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit so that the will of the Father might be accomplished and revealed as taught by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. "Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God" 1 Corinthians 10: 31. Doing all things for the glory of God is the meaning of and substance of life for a human being. And this "doing" is what the substance of the spiritual life is all about. So, right from the beginning of our perfect prayer to the Father which our Lord teaches us, we are reminded of our own vocation as created in His image. This, then becomes for us the natural and proper way to act and relate to God. And if we recognize and approach our God as holy, as unique and different from all around us, we are also going to relate and approach all other human beings in a special, reverential way as well because, they too, are created in his image.
If we respect our God, we will then respect ourselves and others as worthy of reverence. Our spirituality is centered in God; in fact its very goal is communion or union with God which is attained through the accomplishment of His will. To be what God wants us to be and do what God want us to do is the sole meaning of our human existence and Christian vocation. When we recognize and truly live the truth that God's Name is holy, we come to recognize that our vocation and our gift of life has the supreme purpose of also attaining to that holiness and uniqueness in His sight: avoiding sin and overcoming temptation to sin which blemishes our soul and creates life-threatening serious problems in our relationships with God and others.
In the Old Testament, it is written: "I am the Lord your God, consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy, for I am holy" Leviticus 11: 44. In the New Testament, the first letter of St. Peter refers to this fundamental command of God, "...as He who called you is holy, be holy yourself in all your conduct, since it is written, `You shall be holy, for I am holy"' 1 Peter 1: 16. When we pray, "Hallowed be Your name..." we are recognizing that we have the challenge and mandate to be holy by sharing in the happiness, fulfillment and integrity of God Himself. All are "called to be saints" Romans 1: 7, by becoming "partakers of the divine nature of God" 2 Peter 1: 4. This is what our Lord meant when he said in the Sermon on the Mount, "You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" Matthew 5: 48. So, our God is reminding us at the very beginning of our prayer that perfection is not only our responsibility with His grace, but it is also possible because we are His by grace.
This is the very fundamental purpose for the coming of Christ, to impart the holiness of God to each of us. St. Maximus the Confessor stated that "Man is called to become by divine grace all that God Himself is by nature." Very simply, our God wills and helps His creatures to be like He is, and that is the purpose of our very life and being: to share in God's divine nature. At the very outset of our prayer life, our God is reminding us that as He is holy, so we must not only aspire to holiness, but become holy, become perfect. And perfection means being pure, merciful, patient, kind, gentle, free, self¬determining, ever-existing, and always, for eternity, the absolute realization of everything good in inexhaustible richness. We cannot stagnate, we must always advance and change, not only here and now in this life, but for all eternity, develop in divine perfection by the will and power of our God Himself. And this becomes possible only if at the outset of our Christian journey we come to recognize how serious is our challenge and vocation and as a result meet it with equal eagerness, knowing our God will provide the assistive proportionate grace to achieve our goal and His goal for us. When we have seriously and sincerely undertaken this journey to the fullness of eternity with God in the life of His Church here on earth, then of course, we will not be in danger of taking the Lord's name in vain, of misusing and abusing it because in it is, as the Scripture tells us, "The fullness of grace and truth" John 1: 16, 17 and "all the fullness of God" Colossians 1: 19. When one sees and knows the holiness of the Father, then one more easily sees and recognizes the same virtues in Jesus Christ and how much they should also describe us. When one is in communion with Christ, one is therefore in communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit. And it is this Holy Spirit Who is the breath of life" for all living things, particularly for us as human beings made in the image and likeness of our God" Genesis 1: 30; 2:7.
When we keep holy the name of the Lord, we recognize the "Giver of life", who is the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father to uphold and sustain the universe in its existence and life (Psalms 104: 29; Job 33:4). It is the Holy Spirit Who inspires man to speak God's word and to do God's will. This brief part of the Lord's Prayer recognizes this truth in our lives and it commits us as believers and those who pray to the Father to do nothing outside the grace of the Holy Spirit. Since it is the Holy Spirit Who anoints the prophets, the priests and kings of the Old Testament and "in the fullness of time," it is this very same Holy Spirit Who "descends and remains" on Jesus of Nazareth, making Him the anointed of God and manifesting Him to the world, we seek, at the very beginning of our prayer to the Lord, this very self-same anointing of grace and strength from God. Thus, when we read the New Testament, at the very first manifestation of Christ as the Messiah at His baptism by John in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit is revealed as descending and resting upon Him "as a dove from heaven" John 1: 32; Luke 3: 22.
In our prayers, too, we hope for, and we submit ourselves to the Lord in such a way that the Holy Spirit descends upon us as well, that we be strengthened and upheld in His sight. That brief phrase, "Hallowed be Your Name" at the very beginning of the Lord's prayer is not only to remind us not to abuse God's Holy Name, but to instead, seriously and sincerely call upon and utilize it for our spiritual and temporal good. It is a spiritual resource we can command for our salvation. We are reminded there is a terrible and overwhelming power in the name of our God. We should be allied to it; we should be protected by it and we should be blessed by venerating and honoring it. Just as our Lord, when He began His public life in the synagogue at Nazareth after His baptism, immediately refers Isaiah's prophecy about the Messiah directly to Himself:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me..." Isaiah 61: 1; Luke 4: 18, so we, too, ought to experience and in all honesty, be able to say the very same truth when we pray the Our Father, Who are in heaven, hallowed by Your Name..."
Your Kingdom Come
At our baptism, we entered the kingdom of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Every time we celebrate the Divine Liturgy, at the very beginning, our blessed Church solemnly announces that we have entered into the august presence and sublime company of our Creator God. We have entered the eternal dimension, the invisible Church which surrounds us. We have actually come to and encountered the very presence of our God when we boldly proclaim: "Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit..." Inaudibly, prior to the celebration, the priestly celebrant prays, "Heavenly King..." imploring the assistive and confirming presence of the Holy Spirit. The Nativity angelic salutation is recited: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, good will to man," as was done in the actual presence of the new-born Christ¬Child. In the life of the Body of Christ, our blessed Church, we announce the source and the goal of the divine service of the people of God, the very context and content of all our entire liturgical action of prayer and praise.
It is the kingdom of God brought to the world, extended into our existence by Christ, the Son of God, and already mystically reigning and existing in faithful disciples by the presence and _power of the Holy Spirit. The kingdom of God is here and now, in the life of the Church and in each of us who are baptized and chrismated. The kingdom of God is eternal life in communion with the eternal Father in loving obedience to his divine will. It is life in union with the Blessed Trinity; life lived toward the Father, through the Son, by the grace of the Holy Spirit. It is life which Christ has gifted us by His incarnation, crucifixion, Resurrection and glorification.
It is life to be lived already in this world by the people of God in the earthly presence of the divine kingdom, in the life of His Body, the Church. To bless the kingdom of God means to love it as one's most precious possession. The response of the people to the proclamation of blessing by the priestly celebrant is with the word, Amen, which means "so be it," implying our personal and zealous assent. Thus the solemn affirmation we make each time the Divine Liturgy is celebrated that indeed the blessing of God's kingdom is fitting and proper, that we belong to it, that it is "the pearl of great price" Matthew 13: 46, of which Christ speaks in the synoptic gospels, which once having found it, we will love it and serve it and desire to be in it forever.
"Your kingdom come," means for us a deep desire for the completion of this age of salvation in eternity. Christians do want the world to end so that God's kingdom will fill all creation with divine glory and eternal life. "Come, Lord Jesus, maranatha!" 1 Corinthians 16: 22. is the prayer of the faithful soul, the very last prayer of Scripture. It is the calling of the final appearance of the Lord among us here and now. This part of the prayer is understood as an invocation of the Holy Spirit to dwell with his people, in us! In his commentary on the Lord's Prayer, St. Gregory Nyssa teaches that we are asking the Holy Spirit to descend and come upon us and cleanse us, to make us worthy of entrance into the eternal kingdom. Thus, he says, following the Scripture, that the presence of the Holy Spirit in man is the presence of Christ and the eternal kingdom. "For the kingdom of God is ... righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" Romans 14:17.
The life and purpose, therefore of our physical body, of this present existence is holiness. Both in the Old Covenant and the New, repeated by Christ, do we have the ongoing challenge: "Be holy, because I your God am holy" Leviticus 11: 44; Matthew 5: 48; 1 Peter 1: 16. And this holiness is only possible in the life of the Body of Christ, in his Church, in his kingdom, in association with him. So, when we pray, "Your kingdom come...," what we are really saying is "Grant us the grace to recognize the kingdom in our midst, of which we are an organic part, so that when we are transferred, or as the saints are wont to say, "translated" into eternity, there will be no radical difference in our existence except that the kingdom will be totally and fully and completely revealed in all its splendor without any earthly or physical limitations and we will become part of it more intensely and deeply than now in the necessarily limited physical life experienced here on earth due to time and space, etc.
There, in the fullness of the kingdom for eternity, newer and profounder dimensions will be revealed to us, but it will be the very same kingdom we know now in only in part and imperfectly. It is our vocation as believers in the life of holiness that we recognize and live the truth of God's kingdom here and now. That is why we permit ourselves to be gathered by the loving, embracing, impelling grace of the Holy Spirit to glorify our God and to praise and worship him. It is through worship and service that we continue to grow in holiness from one level or plateau to a higher one until we are perfected ineternity.
All of God's revelation to us in Scripture centers around this same fundamental fact: God's people should acquire and express the holiness, wisdom, glory and righteousness of God himself. This and nothing else is the meaning and purpose of man's life as created and guided by God and expressed in these words of the perfect prayer of the Lord.. In this portion of the prayer tour heavenly Father, we express our ardent hope, our earnest desire that our life here and now take on and assume the perfection of the heavenly kingdom. And of course, this is only possible by the grace of the Holy Spirit and our cooperation with that strengthening and affirming grace. If this is in fact the life of the kingdom to come we already experience, even if in an imperfect way, then the will of God must reign supreme in all things and at all times. And it is the failure of man to live up to the challenge demanded of us by our Creator, that sin and error continue in the world. And this sin and error is made worse by the fact that we continue to permit it to exist in this very kingdom of our God, in our own lives, and in our relationships with others.
Because we so easily tolerate this sinfulness, this "worldliness," in the eternal kingdom, our responsibility and our sinfulness is all the more serious. The glory of God is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ and it is the consistent witness of the apostles who beheld the "kingdom of God come in power" Mark 9: 1, on the mountain of Transfiguration. We have received this glory; we are partakers of it by the grace of the Holy Spirit. During this season of the Great Fast, are we attempting seriously to root out of our lives all that does not belong to the eternal kingdom, all that is not worthy of the eternal kingdom, all that keeps us from truly living and experiencing the reality of the kingdom among us.
Each time we pray the Our Father, this is what we are asking for, this is what we are seeking: to recognize here and now, the dignity of our eternal destiny and to honestly, sincerely and seriously live up to its challenges!
Your Will Be Done
The very center of the Lord's Prayer is "Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven..." as it is the prime desire of every believer. The whole purpose of prayer, its entire focus in man's life is to do the will of God. That is what our Lord prayed for and did. "...your will be done!" Matthew 26: 42.
And this, of course is what those who follow him must pray and do. It is what they are to be identified with. There is but one purpose for prayer, say the spiritual teachers of the Church of Jesus Christ, and that is to keep God's commandments so as not to sin, thus leading to deification and divine sonship with Christ himself.
"The only thing that God demands of us mortals is that we do not sin. But this ... is merely keeping inviolate the image and rank we possess by nature. Clothed thus in the radiant garment of the Spirit, we abide in God and He in us; through grace we become gods and sons of God and are enlightened by the light of his knowledge" Practical and Theological Precepts, St. Simeon the new Theologian.
We consistently pray "Your will be done ... according to the spiritual masters and find it a daring and even dangerous request. This is so, first of all, because when one makes this a sincere prayer, he must be ready, just like Christ, to follow where it leads. Our heavenly Father will answer this prayer and make known his will. The person who prays must be ready to bow in obedience to his will, whatever the consequences. When asked why many Christians are frustrated and irritated, grouchy and mean, and sometimes even somewhat "unbalanced," one spiritual father responded that the reason is rather clear. They pray "Your will be done..."; they make and confirm the statement, and continue to daily do so, while at the same time they actively resist God's will in their lives and are always ill at ease. Then they begin to justify their attitudes and actions, to explain and to rationalize their behavior, before their own consciences and those of others. A person in such a state can never be at peace, for "...it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God" Hebrews 10: 31.
The second reason why it is said that the prayer, "You will be done..." and prayer generally is daring and dangerous is because the devil ferociously attacks the person who prays. Indeed one of the greatest proofs of demonic temptation and the reality and power of the devil, is to be fervent in prayer. For the devil wants nothing so much as for man to fail to accomplish the will of God which is the actual purpose of all prayer.
"If you strive after prayer, prepare yourself for diabolical suggestions and be prepared to patiently bear their onslaughts; for they will attack you like wild beasts ... Try as much as possible to be humble and courageous ... He who endures will be granted great and enduring joy " Texts on Prayer, St. Nilus of Sinai.
Like the brief phrase, "Our Father," which was so often on the Master's lips, so the "kingdom of God" or "the kingdom of heaven" were also frequently uppermost in his thoughts and teaching. Thus the Lord is advancing the necessity of God's will being done as it leads into the eternal kingdom.
God's will. What is it? Our Father's will. Can it be known?
The eternal will of the eternal God. Will it be done? Can it be carried out and complied with by mortal man? Does or can the will of God become of paramount importance to strong-willed, self-willed men? All of these are very searching, inquiring, serious questions. And they deserve, yes, much more, they demand sincere and satisfying as well as fulfilling answers.
It is traditionally true to say that uncounted millions of men and women have repeated these four words without having the faintest idea of what God's will actually is. It is even more sobering to reflect that even more people have simply repeated or mimicked them without any intention of seeing to it that our Father's will is done; even if they did know it. So in a sense, there is much vain and pointless repetition of a phrase which actually bears enormous import for the Christian.
It is well to recall and remind ourselves that this is the very practice which Christ warned his disciples not to indulge, just before He taught them his prayer. He said very plainly, "But when you pray, do not rattle on like the pagans. They think they will win a hearing by sheer multiplication of words. Do not imitate them" Matthew 6: 7.
What it amounts to is that most do not take seriously what they pray in repeating these words of our Lord. We do not earnestly intend to have God's will done in our lives, or in the life of His Body, the Church. It is a rather pleasant, pious sort of phrase that passes our lips too lightly and very easily.
Yet the tremendous truth is that the will of God our Father and the doing of his will is the most important activity in all the world. The will of God is of such enormous magnitude and majesty that it completely overshadows all other concepts in Christian life. Doing the Father's will is the one gigantic, central theme which should dominate the lives of all God's children. That is why Jesus placed it at the very heart and center of this prayer. It is the central theme about which all others are grouped. It has been and was and ever shall be the lodestar by which His life was lived as an example for us. To do the will of God. That is precisely why He, the Son of God, set foot on our earth, to do the will of the Father, to minister to us by example and word as a wandering prophet, to die deliberately for us, the sinless One for us sinners, to be buried and rise again, to return to heaven to prepare a place for each of us. All this has to do with fulfilling the will of the Father. Even though He often agonized about it in his human nature, He states, "For I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me" John 6: 38. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He repeats the same resolution and affirmation because it belongs to the essence of his life.
To make the subject of God our Father's will as simple as possible, it is helpful to realize what it is. The will of God is simply God's intentions. It is what He proposes. It is what He plans and wants to be done.
If we are to appreciate and fully realize the majesty and magnitude of God's will, we must bring it out from between the mere bindings of His revelation to us in Scripture and the life of his Body, our blessed Church. We must see it flowing freely, running strongly through the very segment of heaven and earth, We must sense its power and impact made apparent everywhere, even in the meticulous mathematical accuracy of the great stellar systems of outer space, in the unbelievable forces with the nucleus of an atom, in the fall of a fledgling from its nest, in the response of the human will to the overtures of God's own gracious Spirit speaking the reassuring words, "He does not desire the death of a sinner, "since he wants none to perish, but all to come to repentance" 2 Peter 3: 9.
God's will penetrates every care of life; nothing is an exception to it. It is made real in all the biological systems of the natural world. It is inherent in the vast complex chemical interactions that control the organic and inorganic world. This mighty will reveals itself in the beauty and wonder of nature. It can be seen and sensed in all the exciting environments of our planet. By far its most sublime and remarkable demonstration is in the life of our Lord. It carries on down through his family, the body of believers, the Church on earth today. It is found in any human heart and character when a sincere soul seeks to know and to do the will of God. It so pervades all and it even finds an outlet in the details of day-to-day decisions which Christ's followers make for his sake.
God's will proposes, decides, chooses and plans. "I have chosen you, said the Lord of hosts" Haggai 2: 23; "He has chosen us before the foundation of the world" Ephesians 1: 4.
Therefore the will of God for us who believe in him and follow after him, "For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments and his commandments are not burdensome" 1 John 5: 3; "I delight in your commandments which I love" Psalms 119: 47.
That is why being a communicant of the Body of Christ is such a loving and practical reality. We learn, we are taught, we are immersed in the grace of God's commandments so they actually are known and lived in our hearts and souls. It makes it easy for us to observe graciously God's will in our lives because "Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father" Matthew 7: 21.
It is impossible for man alone, by himself to do God's will. Thus we see the efficacy of the sacramental Mysteries making possible a spiritual reality in the soul of man. St. Paul witnesses for us "Your attitude must be that of Christ ... He was known to be of human estate and it was thus that he humbled himself. .. It is God who in his good will toward you, begets in you any measure of desire or achievement ... in everything you do, act without grumbling or arguing; prove yourselves innocent and straight forward, children of God, beyond reproach in the midst of a twisted and depraved generation, among whom you shine like stars in the sky" Philippians 2: 5, 8,13- 15.
When we pray this portion of the perfect prayer we align ourselves in perfect reality with the will of the Father, with that of Christ the Saviour, we duplicate in our lives a submission to His authority for our daily living. With open mind we ask our heavenly Father to unmistakably guide us, to lead us successfully and triumphantly.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
The prayer for our "daily bread" is usually understood to signify generally all our legitimate bodily needs and whatever we require to sustain our lives in this world. In our spiritual tradition, however, this petition, because it literally says our essential bread, is often understood in the spiritual sense as well, to mean the nourishment of our soul by the Word of God, Jesus Christ, Who is the Bread of Life, the "Bread of God who has come down from heaven and gives life to the world" John 6: 50, 51. Thus, this perfect prayer offered us by our Lord and Saviour for "daily bread" becomes the petition for daily physical and spiritual nourishment through abiding communion with Christ so that one might live perpetually with our God.
We ask to be nourished by the Lord who cares for his own children and all creation, that the very purpose of our creation, of our existence as his children come about: to do the will of God. That is precisely what Jesus prayed for and actually did. And this is what His followers must also pray for and do. When we think about it, there is but one purpose for our prayer and this is to keep God's commandments intact and not sin, avoid sin, thus leading to participation in the divine nature of God himself through Jesus Christ, his Son.
St. Simeon the New Theologian teaches us, "The only thing that God demands of us mortals is that we do not sin. But this ... is merely keeping inviolate the image and rank we possess after our baptism by our own nature. Clothed thus in the radiant garment of the Holy Spirit, we live in God and He in us; through grace we become partakers of the blessing of divinity and are illumined by the light of his knowledge."
Asking that God's will be done in our lives and seeking the daily sustenance which we need, both physical and spiritual with which to support it and reinforce it, is really a daring and courageous act. This is so simply because when we sincerely and seriously make this request of God, we must be ready and accepting of what the Lord will provide.
The prototype of all believers in God is our father in faith, Abraham, and the father of Israel and all believers. Here is what St. Paul says about this important ingredient of our faith commitment to Christ: "The promise of Abraham and his descendants that they should inherit the world did not come through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. That is why righteousness depends on faith in order to guarantee it to all his descendants ... who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all..in the presence of God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he promised. That is why his faith is `reckoned to him as righteousness' Genesis 15: 66. But the words, `it was reckoned to him' were written not for his sake only, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification" Romans 4: 13 - 25.
When we seek sustenance from the Lord, when we seek "our daily bread," we are asking our God to grant us whatever is necessary that our being be transformed into immortal praises and glories of the Blessed Trinity. Has not the Lord said, "Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, it is he that bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can nothing" John 15: 4, 5.
In other words, all that we physically and spiritually consume is to make us into another Christ, another anointed one, that is precisely why we are called Christians, little Christs, second Christs. We are what we eat, as the old Greek truism teaches. We are what we are nourished on. We are what Christ shed for us by the promise of his words in Scripture. We are what His Body and His Blood lead us to become at the Divine Liturgy. When we uprightly and worthily receive the Body and Blood of the Saviour, Christ does not become like us, as our ordinary physical food and nourishment witnesses. In fact, it is we who become like him! Thus we then become like him, and act like him and we respect ourselves like him and we relate to each other like him. When we pray this awesome prayer, we are challenged by our heavenly Father and we challenge ourselves as well, to be far more than what the world merely expects of us, even many times more than we expect of ourselves.
Genuine faith is not a blind leap into the dark, an irrational unreasonable acceptance of the unreasonable and absurd. Genuine faith is eminently reasonable; it is rooted and grounded in man's reasonable nature as made in the image of God. Scripture teaches us, "The fool says in his heart, there is no God!" Psalms 14: 1, 2; 53: 1, 2.
The brief inclusion of these insinuated words, "Give us this day our daily bread," shows that man is made to have faith in God because not believing is perversion of our human nature and the cause of all evil.
The weakness and absence of faith in God is rooted directly in sin, impurity and silly pride. It is never simply the result of an intellectual mistake or mental confusion. It is always the suppression of the truth through wickedness, the exchange of God's truth for a lie, the refusal, consciously or unconsciously, to acknowledge God with honor and thanksgiving.
Christ describes for us the individual who has no faith: "You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall see, but never perceive. For these people's hearts have grown dull, and their ears are heavy to hearing, and their eyes have been closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their heart and turn to me to heal them" Isaiah 6: 9, 10; Matthew 13: 14, 15.
The person who prays for his daily bread and earnestly looks forward to receiving it for his body and soul lives "...by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me" Galatians 2:20. He is in fact the person who is faithful in all things because he depends upon our heavenly Father for all things.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive
Those Who Trespass Against Us
These brief words which carry tremendous weight and profound import, have been emphasized by our Lord elsewhere as well: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses" Matthew 6: 14, 15. This is not only paramount in the Lord's Prayer, but is also the point of Christ's parable regarding the unforgiving servant found in St. Matthew's Gospel (18: 23 - 35). We all desperately need the forgiveness of our God and must pray for it. All are indebted to God for everything and fail to offer the thanksgiving and praise and righteousness that are due.
The only way our heavenly Father will overlook and forgive the sins and debts of his servant is if they themselves forgive their brothers and sisters sins committed against them, not merely in eager words and formal gestures, but genuinely and truly "...from their hearts" Matthew 18: 35.
In the prayer our Lord teaches us, this is not only dearly acknowledged, but obviated because of its eternal implications for each of us as believers. Our forgiveness, then is obviously conditional. We can only receive the forgiveness of the Lord if we are forgiving to others ourselves. And when we think abut the implications of this prayer which we involve ourselves in daily, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us," we are praying and asking the Lord to be as merciful to us as we are to others. We are asking the Lord to be as sensitive spiritually to us as we are affirming to others. We are asking the Lord to be merciful to us in the same dimensions we exhibit mercy to other souls. So this can become a most sincere prayer, depending and falling solely on the loving mercy of our gracious God, or we can be asking our God to condemn us as we willingly and often condemn others.
When sin severs our relationship with others, we must remember that it also severs us from communion with the Source of life, Who is God and also tears us away from the life of His Body, our blessed Church. This most serious event is an assault on the grace of our baptism, on our life and our existence must be restored to spiritual stability. That is why the sacramental Mystery of Reconciliation, or penance, or confession as it is popularly called, is most vital and necessary for a believer. It is why confession of sins has been called the renewal of baptism, or the reestablishment of that condition of life with God which was given to man in the sacramental Mysteries of initiation into authentic Christian life. Humility before the Lord will urge sinful man to be reconciled with another, to apologize, to ask the forgiveness of God when we have allowed the temptation of the devil to blossom fully and overwhelm us and lead us into willing sin. We only inflict a greater poverty of spirit on ourselves when we refuse to acknowledge that we have sinned and alienate loved ones or strangers around us.
If we sincerely desire forgiveness from our fellow man, then we must be just as eager to offer forgiveness. This passage in the Lord's prayer reminds us very much of the period of repentance we undergo during this most holy season of the Great Fast. It tells us that we are not alien in our existence and must learn God's salutary pattern of co-existence with others in our world, that we grow in holiness along with others in the community of faith and that we also can, by our impinging on their spiritual space and dignity, sin grievously in the sight of God. If we do not grasp firmly and with conviction that Christ himself is present in the life of His Body, our blessed Church by the grace of the Holy Spirit, then we will never come to understand the connection between this brief phrase in our daily prayer devotions and the meaning of the sacramental forgiveness of sin.
When we experience the Church as new life in Christ that is promised us by the Saviour and genuine communion with our God in his kingdom already present among us in deep and abiding mystery, then not only will sacramental confession of sins be understood, but it will be cherished as the great loving mystery of God which it is; the unique possibility for reunion with our God through forgiveness of Christ and through the forgiveness we are eager always to offer each other.
Not only is the teaching of the Church that God alone forgives sin, but it is also the known and experienced impression of the Body of the Lord and its communicants, that we can enhance and facilitate that forgiveness because we eagerly offer it to each other when the occasion arises because of Christ in the life of the Church. We are therefore reminded in our sincere prayerful devotion that we must be poor in spirit which simply means that we have nothing which was not given us by the Lord of life and planted firmly within us by his salutary grace. When we are eager to forgive others we act as God acts, as the mercy of heaven inspires us to respond to particular circumstances.
Poverty of spirit is total emptiness and openness in the sight of God, primarily in relation to the things and values of the Holy Spirit, that is, to understanding and insight, to will and desire. So to be poor in spirit is to be devoid of all pride and trust in the power of one's own ideas, opinions or desires. It is to be liberated from the "vain imaginings" Jeremiah 23: 17; Romans 1: 21, of ones own heart and judgment.
So we voluntarily give up our own judgments in regard to others and submit to the will of the Lord and are happy to do so, trusting the Lord to genuinely lead us to paradise. We forgive because He asks us to forgive and then He readily imparts forgiveness in turn because we have submitted to the truth of his will. It is astounding then to think our actions, influence the actions of our Creator God!
We do not carry the burden of a grudge which weighs us down heavily in our lives and adversely influences us to submit further to the unrelenting onslaughts of the devil. We forgive because we renounce the values of the world around us in submitting to the eternal values of our God. We espouse the virtue of our Saviour who teaches us, "Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing on his own accord, but only what He sees the Father doing ...I can do nothing on my own authority..." John 5: 19, 30.
If we truly belong to the Saviour, if we truly appreciate the value of our Christian baptism which is encapsulated forgiveness, then the mind, the heart, and the soul of Christ overwhelms us and impels us to make ourselves by His grace, acceptable in the sight of our heavenly Father. Then, we eagerly offer forgiveness to others that we might also find forgiveness ourselves.
When, from time to time, we imagine that we have been greatly offended and our sensibilities so hugely violated, that we, in a moment of introspection and subsequent guilt feel the need to offer forgiveness in response to the demands of the law of Christ, but at the same time equivocate and explain to ourselves that our offense is so deeply disturbing and that while we can in fact forgive, we cannot forget.
What we simply do in such an instance is say "I'll forgive you now because I do not have the resources or another course of action to pursue, but just as soon as I am freer, I will exact vengeance, I will remember and you will pay the burden for your mortally offensive trespass. This is the course of action which our Lord precisely wishes us to avoid, to keep out of our lives. He offers us the supreme example of forgiveness from the heights of the Cross on which He was innocently, but willingly nailed for our sins.
He knew our guilt better than anyone. He did not blame us, He simply absolved us by this most meaningful prayer to the Father, "Father forgive them because they do not know what they do" Luke 23: 34. The Son of God does not want us to carry the burden of our guilt into eternity. He desires we put an end to it. And so He gives, in the most dire circumstances of his earthly life a worthy and notable example, we should equally forgive each other if we sincerely, seriously want and need the forgiveness of God.
Lead Us Not Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil
Many who have only superficial faith without any depth in their commitment to the Lord oftentimes mistakenly think when they pray, "Lead us not into temptation," that our God puts his people to the test or brings them into the occasion of sinful evil. The proper and true understanding for believers is found in the epistle of St. James who was inspired to record for our benefit: "Let no one say when he is tempted, `I am tempted by God' for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire, when it is conceived, gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown, bring forth death" James 1: 13-15.
"Lead us not into temptation" really means that we ask our heavenly Father not to allow us to be found in situations in which we will be overwhelmed and overcome by sin. It is a prayerful petition that we be kept from those people, places and circumstances where wickedness reigns and where, we in our weakness will be certain to succumb because we will be inundated with temptation. It is a prayer to our God that we be liberated from the deceit and vanity of our minds and hearts, from the carnal lusts that dwell in our bodies. "When your old nature was still active sinful desires were at work within you, making you want to do whatever God said not to, and producing sinful deeds, the rotting fruit of death" Romans 7: 5.
It is a prayer that our God himself will be our shelter and refuge as we pray in the Old Covenant Psalm because we genuinely attempt to be devoted believers who have security under God's protection: "You who dwell in the shelter of the most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, say to the Lord `My refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.' For he will rescue you from the shame of the fowler, from the destroying pestilence. With his pinions he will cover you, and under his wings you shall take refuge, his faithfulness is a protection and a shield. You shall not fear the terror by night, nor the arrow that flies by day; nor the pestilence that roams in darkness or the devastating plague of noon. Though a thousand fall at your side, ten thousand at your right side, near you it shall not come. Rather with your eye shall you behold and see the requital of the wicked, because you have the Lord for your refuge; you have made of the most High your stronghold. No evil shall befall you, nor shall affliction come near your tent, for to his angels he has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the asp and the viper; you shall trample down the lion and the dragon. Because he clings tome, I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he acknowledges my name. He shall call upon me and I will answer him; I will be with him in distress; I will deliver him and glorify him; with length of days will I gratify him and show him my salvation" Psalms 91: 1 - 16.
Our God is our protector and He longs for us to call upon him for protection and sustaining grace. Just as He led the Israelites by the pillar of fire by night and the heavenly cloud during the day in the desert wilderness for forty years following their escape from Egypt, so now He also leads us and protects and guides us if we but permit him, if we follow the way He taught us through his Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Even when we are tempted, in his loving tenderness, He guards us so we will not be overwhelmed and lose our soul. St. Paul comfort us and affirms the Lord only permits that temptation which we have the spiritual capacity to refute. He only permits us to suffer that burden which we can ourselves carry. So, we must be careful we do not indulge ourselves unnecessarily in sinful pleasure to the degree that we are overwhelmed and drawn into perdition by the wiles of the devil. We must not playfully enter into questionable sinful behavior thinking we can avert it just in time to avoid its serious and devastating consequences. "Do not let evil get the upper hand, but conquer evil by doing good" Romans 12: 21.
When we forget about the strength of the devil, we begin to think about our own seeming ability to avoid sin simply by ourselves and on our own merit and authority. And in having deceived ourselves in so thinking, we then fall prey to sin and temptation. "A further reason for forgiveness is to keep from being outsmarted by satan, for we know what he is trying to do" 2 Corinthians 2: 11. It is precisely all of this that we ask the Lord to deliver us from, to confirm and lead us toward salvation in Christ. And of course, the assumption is that we are devoted to our God and are worthy to receive his strengthening grace if we are in true communion with him. "For we naturally love to do evil things that are jut the opposite from the things that the Holy Spirit tells us to do, and the good things we want to do when the Spirit has his way with us are just the opposite of our natural desires. These two forces within us are constantly fighting each other to win control over us, and our wishes are never free from their pressures" Galatians 5: 17.
The second portion of this brief concluding phrase, "Deliver us from evil..." literally says, "rescue us from the evil one," that is the dirty devil. The meaning is clear. There are only two ways for man to travel in this life: God and life or the devil and death. There are those of simplistic mind who insist life is not just black and white, but moreover manifestly gray, but our blessed Church has insisted from its very inception we can choose either life or death, the devil or God, nothing in between because there is no in between, no half good or half bad, but all bad and supremely evil or entirely on the path to goodness and virtue.
And it is precisely why the Holy Spirit was sent into the world on Pentecost: to reinforce us in our baptismal commitment, to strengthen us in our devotion, to exercise the spirit of our soul so that our God is always given the opportunity because of our oftentimes meager spiritual disposition, to deliver us from evil, from the clutches of the devil.
Deliverance from the devil always means elevation and redemption from every falsehood, foolishness, deceit, wickedness and iniquity that leads to destruction and death. If we devotedly offer this prayer to our heavenly Father, we become his faithful child, his devoted servant, his earnest disciple and we come to inevitably understand the Lord's Prayer as making known to us the whole meaning of our life. "Sin need never be your master for now you are no longer tied to the law where sin enslaves you, but you are free under God's favor and mercy" Romans 6: 14.
Finally, delivered from evil, we are saved from temptation, in so doing we are merciful to all and receive the forgiveness of our own sins. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you" James 4: 7. Being forgiven our sins, by our mercy to others, we have all that we need for life - our daily bread - and being nourished by the God of heaven, we can accomplish his will. Having done his will, God's kingdom is present in us; his name is sanctified and we in turn, in truth, become the child of God who can sincerely and seriously call upon our Creator and earnestly say, "Our Father..."