By Subdeacon Wasim Shehata
“If you have not been faithful in that which is little, who will give you that which is great?” [Luke. 16:11] | Contemplation On The Lord’s Prayer
As Christians, we pray the Our Father prayer on a daily basis, several times a day. The Church received this prayer from Christ Himself when asked how we should pray (Matthew 6:9-13). Most of us pray this prayer without really contemplating on it, therefor let us take a deeper look at this beautiful prayer.
Lord’s Prayer | I – Lord, make us worthy to pray in gratitude
Gratitude is one of the most important things in the Christian faith. The Church therefore always encourages its members to do everything with gratitude (Psalm 7:17, 9:1; Ezra 3:11; Philippians 4:6; Colossians 2:6-7). Paul, for instance, teaches us to ‘’rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) as ‘’through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God’’ (Hebrews 13:15-16). The Church Fathers often mentioned the significance of gratitude.
For instance, as John Chrysostom (407 AD) said: ‘’Let us give thanks to God continually. For, it is outrageous that when we enjoy His benefaction to us in deed every single day, we do not acknowledge the favor with so much as a word; and this, when the acknowledgment confers great benefit on us. He does not need anything of ours, but we stand in need of all things from Him.’’ [John Chrysostom. Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew, Homily 25].
“let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name” Subdeacon Wasim Shehata | Contemplation On The Lord’s Prayer
He furthermore said that ‘’happiness can only be achieved by looking inward and learning to enjoy whatever life has and this requires transforming greed into gratitude”. John Cassian (435 AD) said about gratitude that the ‘’fourth (type of prayer) are thanksgivings. Unspeakably moved by the memory of God’s past kindnesses, by the vision of what He now grants or by all that He holds out as a future reward to those who love Him, the mind gives thanks. In this perspective richer prayers are often uttered’’ [John Cassian. The Conferences, Conference 9].
One of the first Church Fathers, Irenaeus of Lyons (202 AD) said ‘’and, for this reason, the Lord declared to those who showed themselves ungrateful towards Him: ‘If you have not been faithful in that which is little, who will give you that which is great?’ (Luke. 16:11) indicating that those who, in this brief temporal life, have shown themselves ungrateful to Him Who bestowed it, shall justly not receive from Him length of days forever and ever.” [Irenaeus of Lyons. Against Heresies, Book 2.34]
Lord’s Prayer | II – Our Father who art in Heaven
It is said that one of the Egyptian Church Fathers would contemplate on this sentence alone for hours, and how amazing it is that God is our Heavenly Father. How often do we really contemplate this sentence? God, in the Heavens, who owns everything in the heavens and on earth, is not our dictator, master, employer, but our Father. How amazing is that? How often do we consider the fact that we have a loving Father in the Heavens.
“for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” [Galatians 3:26-27] | Contemplation On The Lord’s Prayer
We all have a Father in the Heavens, yet why don’t we make use of that? Furthermore, why do we not feel like we have a Father in the Heavens.
Let us get to know our Father, build a (better) relationship with Him and live with Him so that, despite our stay on earth, we mentally and spiritually live in Heaven with Him and His saints. John Climacus (649 AD) said regarding this that ‘’a servant of the Lord stands bodily before men, but mentally he is knocking at the gates of heaven with prayer’’.
Paul teaches us that ‘’because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ’’ (Galatians 4:6-7) because ‘’for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ’’ (Galatians 3:26-27).
This leads to ‘’but as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name’’ (John 1:12). When we (start to) make use of God’s Fatherhood, we will also (start) feel like His children with all the benefits that come with it. We will feel Gods presence in all the aspects of our lives; our relationships with others, our work, our study and more. Abba Anthony the Great (356 AD) said that ‘’I no longer fear God, but I love Him. For perfect love casts out fear.’’ (John 4:18).
Lord’s Prayer | III – Your will be done on earth as in heaven
How beautiful is this sentence? Your will, and certainly not mine, will be done. How reassuring is this sentence? If Gods will always be done, we never have to worry. We do not have to worry because God, of course, wants the best for us, otherwise God would not be God. It is a proclamation of the faithful that our will is corrupt, and that our mind and heart are not to be trusted (Jeremiah 17:9; Proverbs 28:26).
“It follows, logically, that that God will do nothing that is not for the best.” Subdeacon Wasim Shehata | Contemplation On The Lord’s Prayer
If a carnal father, with human limitations, already has the best for us, how much more would our Heavenly Father do? We should only worry when we want our will to happen. Basil of Caesarea (379 AD) said that ‘’do not say ‘this happened by chance, this came to be of itself.’ In all that exists there is nothing disorderly, nothing indefinite, nothing without purpose, nothing by chance … How many hairs are on your head? God will not forget one of them. Do you see how nothing, even the smallest thing, escapes the gaze of God?”
God has everything under control, otherwise He would not be God of course, but what we sometimes do not realize is that God created man to love him. In other words, God did not create us as a kind of punching bag, to express His frustration on, but to give us the opportunity to enjoy His infinite and limitless love. It follows, logically, that that God will do nothing that is not for the best. The one who is disappointed in God, or feels that God is not listening to him, is the one who already indirectly has an answer in mind during his prayers.
When we present a problem to God and unconsciously force a solution on God, we will be disappointed that our solution does not necessarily correspond to God’s. He who realizes that God will never do anything that is bad for him, and that everything is for the best, is the one who can never get disappointed in God.
Delivered to you by COPTICNN™ | Coptic News Network on 2021-02-09 from Kudelstaart. Netherland.
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