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The Lordís Prayer

"Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Mat. 6:9-13).

Teaching us not to say more than what is necessary, the Lord gives us an example of prayer. This is the "Our Father" or, as it is often called, "The Lordís Prayer." This prayer is noteworthy because it encompasses in a few words the main spiritual and material needs of a person. Besides that, the Lordís prayer teaches us to organize our tasks correctly, showing which is more important, and which is secondary.

"Our Father, which art in Heaven." In addressing God with the words "Our Father," we remind ourselves that He, like a most loving Father, continually works for our good. We remind ourselves about Heaven, so that we turn our thoughts from the mundane bustle and direct it to where our lifeís path should be leading to, to our eternal homeland. Let us turn our attention to that main detail, that all the requests in the Lordís Prayer are found in the plural form. That is to say, we are praying not only for ourselves, but for all those near to us by blood or faith, and, in some measure, for all people. In this way we remind ourselves that we are all brothers, children of the Heavenly Father.

"Hallowed be Thy name." This is the first request, in which we express the desire that the Name of God be honored and glorified by us and by all people, that the true faith and piety spread throughout the world. The second request, "Thy kingdom come," expands upon the first. Here we ask God to rule in our hearts, that His law govern our thoughts and deeds, and that His grace enlighten our souls. In this mortal life the Kingdom of God is not visible to the physical eye: it is born in the souls of Christians. But the time will come when all who have the Kingdom of God within them will also earn the right to enter the Kingdom of His eternal glory with both their soul and their renewed body. No earthly riches or pleasures can compare with the bliss of the Heavenly Kingdom, where angels and holy people dwell. And that is why the believing soul languishes in this world and thirsts to reach the Heavenly Kingdom.

People possess the most varied of interests and desires, usually proud and sinful ones, and in human relations these interests and desires clash. From this, all sorts of friction, displeasures and reciprocal offenses arise among people. With such conflicts of human desires, we cannot expect everything in our life to go smoothly and according to our wishes, particularly if we ourselves often err in our goals and ventures. The Lordís Prayer reminds us of the fact that only God knows perfectly what we need, and teaches us to ask for His guidance and help: "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven."

In the first three requests of the Lordís Prayer, we ask from God the most important things for ourselves: the restoration of good in our souls and in our lifeís conditions. The next requests shift to more personal and secondary necessities. Everything which is required for our physical existence is delegated to this category: "Give us this day our daily bread." In Old Church Slavonic, the word "daily" correctly translates the original Greek word "epiusion," which means "essential." To ask for our "daily bread" is to request food, a roof over oneís head, clothing, and everything necessary to live. We do not list these items separately, because the Heavenly Father Himself knows what to send. We do not ask anything for the morrow, because we do not know that we will be alive.

The next request for the forgiveness of our debts is the only request limited by a condition: "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." In a wider sense, the word "debts" means "sins." Of sins we have many, but debts even more. God gave us life so that we could do good for others and increase our abilities, or our "talents." When we do not fulfill our earthly purpose, then we, like the lazy servant in the parable, are burying our talent and will find ourselves debtors before God. Recognizing this, we ask that He forgive us. The Lord knows our weaknesses and our inexperience, and He pities us. He is ready to forgive us, but with one condition: that we forgive all those who have wronged us. The parable about the merciless debtor (Mat. 18:24-35) clearly illustrates how the way we forgive those who offend us is related to the way we receive forgiveness of our debts from God.

At the end of the Lordís Prayer we say: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." The "Evil one" means crafty or cunning, and this name refers to the devil ó the main source of all evil in the world. Temptations may arise from many different sources: from people, from unfavorable living conditions, but, chiefly, from our passions. For this reason we meekly confess our spiritual weakness at the end of the prayer to our Heavenly Father, asking Him to keep us from sin and to defend us from the intrigues of the prince of darkness ó the devil.

We end the Lordís Prayer with words which express our full faith that God will fulfill our request because He loves us, and how we submit to His Almighty will: "For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and Glory..." The closing word "Amen" in the Hebrew tongue means: "truly, let it be so!"

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