Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch

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The Lord’s Prayer

“Our Father in heaven, hollowed be Your Name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not let us enter into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen”.
Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4

In his well known novel, “Crime and Punishment”, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, calls the New testament, “ the Book of books”. Dostoyevsky died on January 28, 1881 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. His epitaph is from John 12:24 and reads as follows, “ Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it produces much grain”.

The Lord’s Prayer mentioned in the New Testament is “ the Prayer of all prayers”. It is the greatest and the most profound prayer ever uttered by our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is so inspiring, edifying and uplifting. It is so brief but captivating; and volumes can be written about it.
I would like to comment, very briefly, about the many meaningful messages in our Lord’s heavenly prayer.

1. “Our Father In Heaven…”
Our heavenly Father, created us, males and females, fathers and mothers in His holy image and likeness. He breathed into us, “the breath of life”, spirits that will last forever. He bestowed on us the power to procreate ( we are co-creators) to give birth to children. However, our status was mired and annulled when Adam and Eve, our first parents, disobeyed God’s command and ate from the forbidden “Tree of good and evil”. Subsequently, they fell from grace and were driven out of Paradise. And physically and spiritually death tarnished them and us. We, as parents, fathers and mothers, were stained by that “ Original Sin” until Christ, Jesus, came to our world and died on the cross and wiped out that Sin. Physically, we live short lives on this earth; our heavenly Father is perfect, permanent and everlasting. Our earthly parents are imperfect and mortal and sooner or later, they will relinquish their roles as parents and they will pass away. Our heavenly Father is the One Father who will forever be around to watch over us and our offspring.

No wonder, Jesus said, “ Do not call anyone on earth your father, for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” Matthew 23;9. Our good parents’ roles, physically and spiritually, lasts for a short period of time. But, God, the heavenly Father takes care of us, everlastingly, here on earth and in the hereafter. When we are orphaned, He will forever remain our earthly and heavenly Father.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit ( One in Three and Three in One) said, “Let Us make man in our image according to Our likeness. Let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping things that creep on the earth”. Genesis 1:26.
While we rule over everything on earth, God, the Father rules over all of us and over all the cosmos. No wonder, we call Him our “heavenly Father”. King David prayed. “O, Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth”. Psalms 8:9.

2. “Hollowed Be Your Name…”
The ungrateful Adam and Eve were driven out of Paradise and generations of their stock were obsessed with wickedness and evil and God was sorry that He created the human kind, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth and He was grieved in His heart. So the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them”. Genesis 6:5-7

Because man was corrupt and evil, God destroyed and wiped him out with the great flood. However, mankind was spared destruction and annihilation because of Noah and his family who were “just, perfect and walked with God”. Genesis 6:9. God, the Father, the Holy of holies resumed His love and contact with mankind because of one just and good family.

Therefore, when we pray to our Heavenly Father, we should never forget that His name is forever holy. Quoting Revelation the four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night;
“Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord God Almighty
Who was and is to come.” Revelation 4:8

When Jesus taught us to pray to the heavenly Father, He, at the same time, told and taught His disciples and the entire world to pray to Him also, who said, “I and the Father are One”. John 10:30.

We, Christians, believe in the Holy Trinity and we believe that God, the Father and God, the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are One and Holy. During the Holy Eucharist, the celebrant blesses the censor saying;
Holy is the Holy Father
Holy is the Holy Son
Holy is the Holy Spirit
who sanctifies the censor of His sinful servant while sparing and showing mercy upon our souls and the souls of our parents, brethren, elders, our departed ones and the faithful departed, the children of the holy church, in both worlds, forever and ever.

3. “Your Kingdom Come…”
Earthly kingdoms were created and destroyed. The Assyrian, the Persian, the Greek, the Roman, the Ottoman, the British, the French, the Russian, the Spanish, the Portuguese and others. However, God’s heavenly kingdom is everlasting. Earthly kingdoms expanded by pillaging, blood-letting, looting, subjugating, taxing and etc. God’s kingdom, where everlasting peace and justice reign, abide forever.

When the Jews delivered Jesus to be tried by Pontius Pilate, He, Pilate, asked Jesus, “What have You done”. Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom was of this world My servants would fight so that I should not be delivered to the Jews but now My kingdom is not from here”. Pilate, therefore said to Him, “Are You a King? Jesus answered, “You say right that I am a King”. John:18:35-37

Jesus is the Prince and the King of peace. He came to our earth and His earth to establish His heavenly kingdom among us and within us. He wanted to spread His peace, unity, fraternity throughout our world, if we were willing to embrace and practice them. But, unfortunately, mankind was not receptive to His divine teachings and calling, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. Matthew 4;17

Innocence, goodness and gentleness are the characteristics of little children and we must have them to be eligible for His heavenly kingdom. The disciples asked Jesus, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven, then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven”. Matthew 18:3. And Jesus also said and warned His disciples, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them for of such is the kingdom of heaven”. Matthew 19:14.

For God the Father’s kingdom to come, we must measure up to the status of little children and finally inherit His kingdom of heaven.

4. “Your Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven….”
Science and the scientists of this world have been trying ceaselessly, alas, in vain, to find another planet that harbors any form of life, let alone humans. It was God’s will to create our earth and us in an evolutionary sense and biblically speaking. We are the only human species found in the whole universe according to His will. When mankind was stained by the Original Sin, God came to our world to redeem us and to save us from that Sin. So, it was God’s good will to announce, through Archangel Gabriel, to Mary and Joseph, that she, was to be conceived of the Holy Spirit and bear her holy Son, Jesus Christ. The heavenly miracle happened to our earth, “ And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men”. Luke 2:13-14.

What a glorious miracle it was for God to appear in the flesh, to bring heaven to earth, to condescend from His divine level to our demeaning earthly level. Coming down from the throne of His heavenly kingdom to our earth is indeed the ultimate of God’s good will. It was His will to be human, to suffer, to die, to rise from the dead and finally ascend to heaven. And it was His good will to select 12 simple fishermen, excluding Judas Iscariot, His betrayer, to be fishers of men. It was His good will to choose Saul, “chief of sinners”, who persecuted His holy church , to be “a chosen vessel” and called later Paul, “to bear” Jesus’ name, “before Gentiles, kings and the children of Israel”. Jesus said to Ananias in Damascus, “For I will show him (Saul) how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake”. Acts 9:5,16. And through Jesus’ will, Paul gladly and willingly, “suffered” for Jesus’ name sake.

If we truly believe in God and pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, He will definitely hear our prayer and reward us with many blessings for our belief and trust in Him.

5. “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread…”
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, promised us saying, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all things shall be added to you”. Matthew 6:33.

How fortunate we are nowadays. God has bestowed upon us plenty of good things provided that we believe in Him and in His kingdom of heaven. In Jesus’ time people were not that fortunate to have what we have. To eat bread alone was not provided for the majority of people, however, Jesus fed the thousands of hungry people with bread and fish. Jesus knew that the masses followed Him because he filled their stomachs and satisfied them. Physically, food is a daily staple we are all tempted and desired to have and humanity cannot survive without it.

After Jesus fasting forty days and forty nights, the devil knew that He was hungry, so the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread”. But He (Jesus) answered and said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. Matthew 4:3,4. How true it is, our nature is not animalistic but human, we are God-like and not monkey-like. Jesus said, “The words that I speak are spirit and they are life”. John 6:63

Why do we have to worry about our daily food? Jesus said to His disciples and the whole world, “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent than a fish? Or if he asks for an egg will he offer him a scorpion?” If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”. Luke 11:11-13. For the believer who has the Holy Spirit inside him/her should not worry at all about what to eat and what to drink.

Our Lord, Jesus Christ is the One who sustains us daily, always and forever. He said to us, “I am the bread of life”. John 6:48. And when we worship Him in church, he warns us saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you”. “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up at the last day.” “For My flesh is food indeed and My blood is drink indeed”. “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in me and I in him.” John 6:53-56. Jesus Christ is indeed our true food and our true drink. During the Holy Eucharist, we must partake of His holy Body and Holy Blood to attain everlasting life.

6. “And Forgive Us Our Debts As We Forgive Our Debtors…”
Adam and Eve broke the commandment of God (by eating from the Tree of Good and Evil) and was labeled as the “Original Sin” or the first sin of our first parents. The death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the cross committed by mankind was greater sin than the “Original Sin”. It was the grievous and the greatest of all sins. O, what a generous and forgiving God, we hear and witness the words of Jesus Christ from atop of the cross. Jesus intercedes for all of humanity; “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do”. Luke 23;24.

John the Baptist predicted the reason of Jesus coming to our world, “The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. John 1:29.

God, in Jesus Christ, has set an example for all of us in forgiving His crucifiers their heinous crime and sin. By doing so, He teaches us that we must also forgive each other our trespasses and sins. We are all sinners and sins are continuously committed by our human kind.

The Jews used to stone adulterous women (not men-male chauvinism) to death. One time, the Scribes and the Pharisees presented to Jesus an adulterous woman and said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, “Now Moses, in the Law, commanded that such should be stoned. But what do you say? “…..And He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone first”. Then Jesus said to the woman, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you? “She said, No one Lord”. And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more”. John 8;3,5-7, 10,11.

“Sin no more” are the key words and they mean repentance. God will not condemn us as long as we do not continue to sin. Mary Magdalene, who was a sinner, at one time, repented and sinned no more and became a saint. If we forgive each other our sins ,God will also forgive us.

7. “ And Do Not Let Us Enter Into Temptation, But Deliver Us From The Evil One…”
“Lead us not into temptation” is translated, wrongly, in most of the Holy Bibles’ versions. “Let us not enter into temptation,” translated by George Lamza, in the Simple Bible version is correct. God does not lead us into temptation, the devil does.

Throughout our life, we are tempted by the devil. Eve was tempted by the devil, in the serpent, to eat from the tree of good and evil which was forbidden by God to eat from. Adam, also, ate from it and consequently they both fell from grace and were driven out of Paradise.

Even our Lord, Jesus Christ, after fasting 40 days and 40 nights, was hungry and the devil tempted Him saying, ”If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread”. But He, (Jesus) answered and said, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw yourself down”. For it is written, “He shall give His angels charge over you, and in their hands they shall lift you up. Lest you dash your foot against a stone”. Jesus said to him, “It is written, “you shall not tempt the Lord, Your God”. Again the devil tempted Jesus by taking Him up to a high mountain and, “showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me”. Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you Satan! For it is written, you worship your Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve”. Matthew 4:3-10.

When the devil found out that Jesus did not respond, act or abide by his command, he (the devil) was at a puzzle and failed to realize that Jesus, the Son of Man was also the Son of God.

Throughout our lives, we are all exposed to the temptations of gluttony, pride, greed and others by the devil. Therefore, we must daily pray to the Lord to help us not be subjects to the devil’s temptations. Yes, Jesus was tempted by the devil, as the Son of Man, but as the Son of God, He castigated, rebuked and dismissed the devil from tempting Him and also that the devil must realize that he should worship and serve God.

8a. “For Yours Is The Kingdom…”
Like I said before, kingdoms are created and destroyed. Only God’s kingdom shall last forever; and no powers in heaven or on earth can destroy. On the throne of His kingdom, God shall judge both the living and the dead. Those who did good things will go to heaven and those who did evil things would go to hell. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven”. Matthew 7:21. The will of God is to believe in Him and to do acts of charity and to abide by His commandments. Every Christian believer looks forward and yearns to be in God’s heavenly kingdom.

8b. “For Yours Is The Power…”
No powers in the whole universe match or surpass the power of God. All the powers in heaven and on earth dwarf before His power. Forgiving the sins of a paralytic and healing him, Jesus was questioned and criticized by some scribes for, “Forgiving the man’s sins” calling it a blasphemy. Jesus answered them saying, “For which is easier, to say, your sins are forgiven you or to say, “Arise and walk?, “But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”. Then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed and go to your house”. Matthew 9:2-6.

Since Jesus Christ and God the Father are One, then Jesus is all powerful. He has the power to teach heavenly teachings, the power to heal the sick, the power to raise the dead and the power to rise from the dead and the power to ascend to heaven and the power, on Judgment Day, to judge both the living and the dead.

8c. “For Yours Is The Glory…”
The glory of God is manifest in His marvelous creation of the whole universe, in our beautiful earth and especially in creating us. Jesus said to His disciples, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels and then He will reward each according to his works”. Matthew 16:27. Jesus also empowered His disciples, on judgment day, to sit around the throne of glory to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, He said. “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel”. Matthew 19:28.

At the end of time, Jesus Christ will reappear again, “On the clouds of heaven”, then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”. Matthew 24;30.

The beloved disciple John articulates the birth of Jesus Christ in the flesh. He says, ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth’. John1:14.

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