Category Archives: Lord’s Prayer

On the Lord’s Prayer: “Amen.”

With our “amen” at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, we are saying, “so be it.” That one word reaffirms our intent in praying the prayer. Now that we have taken a closer look at each part of the Lord’s Prayer, let us pray mindfully every time that we pray it in its entirety. Let us not just reaffirm the Lord’s Prayer with our verbal “amen,” but with our very life, our living “amen.” Let it be so.

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“The Lord’s prayer begins with our goal — becoming a child of God — and then slowly spins out through the path that carries us to that goal.  When we read it backwards like this, we can see how it is a path that takes us home.” ~ https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/raisingsaints/teaching-lords-prayer/

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“We saw that behind each word, behind each petition, there lies a world of spiritual realities, spiritual connections which regularly escaped our attention, which have vanished in the turmoil of our daily lives. From this point of view, the prayer, ‘Our Father,’ is more than a prayer; it is an epiphany and revelation of the spiritual world for which we are created, that hierarchy of values which enable us to arrange everything in its place within our lives. Each petition opens a whole layer of personal awareness, a whole revelation about our selves.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” pp. 85-86

 

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For more on the Lord’s Prayer, visit these sites:

This page (http://www.antiochianarch.org.au/OrthodoxPrayer.aspx#prayer06) offers insights into each part of the prayer. And this one (https://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/spirituality/prayer-fasting-and-alms-giving/the-lords-prayer) offers additional readings for each part of the prayer. You could also listen to a series of homilies on the Lord’s Prayer, found here: http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/rain/the_lords_prayer_part_one

http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/rain/the_lords_prayer_part_two

http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/rain/the_lords_prayer_part_three

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Idea: Find suggestions for teaching the Lord’s Prayer to children here:

Preschoolers: http://www.inlieuofpreschool.com/teaching-the-lords-prayer/
http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/lords-prayer-bag-for-3-5s.html

Elementary age: http://flamecreativekids.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-lords-prayer-crafts-games-and.html

Older children: Someone made a video of figurines of Christ and the disciples, as though Christ is presenting the Lord’s Prayer and explaining each part of the prayer. Not Orthodox, but could be an interesting starting place for discussing the prayer with older children: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhDYhImKQQA; or play this review game, where the group is divided into pairs, each given a question card (or two) about the Lord’s Prayer. They have time to answer, then everyone shares their questions and answers. Suggestions for questions on the cards can be found with the idea, here: http://www.loyolapress.com/our-father-activity.htm

Teens/young adults: Here’s a video of a skit demonstrating what could happen if God would interact with someone who is praying the Lord’s Prayer. Consider using it as a discussion starter with older children: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLVzV9n69UY

On the Lord’s Prayer: “But Deliver Us From Evil.”

 

This short phrase in the Lord’s Prayer serves several purposes. It recognizes that there is evil pursuing us. It acknowledges that we cannot deliver ourselves from that evil. It affirms that God can deliver us from it. It implies that we want to be delivered from evil. It combines all of those truths into one short request. That request is one which Our Lord’s entire life on earth answers immutably with “Yes! I can and I will!”

 

Read more about this phrase:

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“I have always been bothered by the ‘but’ in the Lord’s Prayer. I have wanted to say, ‘and deliver us from the evil one.’ However, the ‘but’ is firmly fixed in the original. We are told to pray this way, to ask the Father not to lead us into temptation–with one exception. Temptation might be necessary to deliver us from the evil one.” ~ read the rest of the article here: http://holynativity.blogspot.com/2013/07/lead-us-not-into-temptation-but.html

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We ask deliverance from the Evil One or from all evil — in both cases, recognizing that Satan and his demons do attack us, and that persons who have willingly given themselves over to evil will cooperate with them and will hope for our destruction.  We ask for God’s protection, recognizing both His strength and our own weakness.” ~ https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/raisingsaints/teaching-lords-prayer/

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“We pray also that God would deliver us from the evil one, and here we are given not an explanation but one more revelation, this time about the personal nature of evil, about the person as the bearer and source of evil. …There exists no concrete reality that we could call hatred, but it appears in all its awesome power when there is one who hates; there’s no suffering as such, but there is the sufferer; everything in this world, everything in this life is personal.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p. 81

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“The source of evil is in the evil person, and this means in the person in whom paradoxically and horribly evil has replaced good, and who lives by evil. It is perhaps here, in these words about the evil one, that we are given the one possible explanation of evil, for here we discover that it is not some kind of impersonal force spread throughout the world, but rather as the tragedy of a personal choice, personal responsibility, personal decision. And therefore only in the person, and not in abstract theories and arrangements, is evil defeated and goodness triumphs; which is why we pray first of all for ourselves, for each time that we overcome temptation, it is because we choose faith, hope, and love and to not the gloom of evil.”~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p. 82

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Idea: This activity mimics a lighthouse’s importance to a ship in safely maneuvering trouble spots. It would be fun to do with your Sunday Church School students, and is a great beginning place for a discussion on how God, our Light, delivers us from evil. http://www.christianitycove.com/bible-lesson-god-is-like-a-lighthouse/7259/

On the Lord’s Prayer: “And Lead Us Not Into Temptation”

If we pay attention to this petition in the Lord’s Prayer, it will cause us to stop and really think. Why are we asking God not to lead us into temptation? Does God ever actually lead us into temptation? Or are we asking Him to lead us in ways of righteousness, those ways which take us away from temptation? Regardless of whether or not we know the answers to these questions, we are certain of one thing. And that is this: we need God’s help to be delivered from the temptations that beset us. So we ask Him to lead us. And He does.

It is up to us whether or not we follow His leading.

 

Read more about this petition of the Lord’s Prayer:

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“First we clarified that God does not lead us to temptation, but that we are hoping He will lead us away, for we are here recognizing our weakness.  Temptation can surely come from outside us, from demons and bad influences, but temptation also comes from within — our own weaknesses and insecurities may cause us to want to lash out or to steal or to run from consequences.  Our weaknesses are our temptations, and in humility, we ask that God shield us and protect us, for we know that alone we are not strong enough to overcome all temptation, but through Christ Jesus there is nothing we cannot do.” ~ https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/raisingsaints/teaching-lords-prayer/

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“Is this then what the Lord teaches us to pray, that we may not be tempted at all? How then is it said elsewhere, ‘a man untempted, is a man unproved’; and again, ‘My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various temptations’ (James 1:2)? But does perchance the entering into temptation mean the being overwhelmed by the temptation? For temptation is, as it were, like a winter torrent difficult to cross. Those therefore who are not overwhelmed in temptations, pass through, showing themselves excellent swimmers, and not being swept away by them at all; while those who are not such, enter into them and are overwhelmed… If ‘lead us not into temptation’ implied not being tempted at all, He would not have said, ‘But deliver us from the evil one.’ Now the evil one is our adversary the devil, from whom we pray to be delivered.” ~St. Cyril of Jerusalem

Read this and more of what St. Cyril had to say about each part of the Lord’s Prayer here: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/03/lords-prayer-st-cyril-of-jerusalem.html

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“…this victory lies not in the ability to understand and explain evil but rather in the ability to face it with the full force of faith, the full force of hope, the full force of love. For it is by faith, hope, and love that temptations are overcome, they are the answer to temptation, the victory over temptations, and therefore the victory over evil.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p.79

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“…Christ didn’t once explain and therefore didn’t once justify and legitimatize evil, but he constantly confronted it with faith, hope, and love. He didn’t destroy evil, but he did reveal the power of struggle with evil, and he gave this power to us, and it is about this power that we pray when we say: ‘and lead us not into temptation.’”~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p.80

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Idea: Talk with children about temptation either using the tug-of-war example in the lesson plan here, or the “bait” ideas as demonstrated in the attached video: http://ministry-to-children.com/temptation-object-lessons/. Then talk about how the petition “and lead us not into temptation” from the Lord’s Prayer can help us when we are tempted. Also, discuss how God helps us when we are being tempted. Talk about things to do when tempted: first, of course, would be prayer; then removing one’s self from the situation if possible; etc. Help your children think of hands-on things to do when they feel tempted. Create a list to keep posted somewhere where everyone can see it and be reminded of it.

On the Lord’s Prayer: And Forgive Us Our Trespasses As We Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us.

 

This part of the Lord’s Prayer is much easier to say than it is to live. We sin so often, and we come to God in confession and repentance, expecting Him to forgive us, for we believe 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We desire mercy, and we know that He who IS Mercy will extend it to us in spite of our sins. But this petition doesn’t just stop with “forgive us our trespasses:” it continues, “AS we forgive those who trespass against us. The bottom line is that our forgiveness is intimately tied to how we extend forgiveness to others. Forgiving others is not as easy as begging forgiveness for ourselves. May God help us to forgive, that we, too, may be forgiven!


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“The prayer ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’ has been especially emphasized by the Lord.’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 Father forgive your trespasses.’ (Matthew 6:14-15) This is the point of Christ’s parable about the unforgiving servant. (Matthew 18:23-35) All men need the forgiveness of God and must pray for it. All men are indebted to God for everything, and fail to offer the thanksgiving and praise and righteousness that are due. The only way that God will overlook and forgive the sins and debts of His servants is if they themselves forgive their brothers, not merely in words and formal gestures, but genuinely and truly ‘from their hearts.’ (cf. Matthew 18:35) In the prayer taught by Christ this is clearly acknowledged.” ~ from https://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/spirituality/prayer-fasting-and-alms-giving/the-lords-prayer

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“This is a very difficult part of the Lord’s Prayer. Trespasses are the wrong things we do. We notice very quickly when someone is selfish and boastful, mean or untruthful. Sometimes it is very hard for us to forgive someone who has wronged us in any way. We dislike people for this and this means that we do not forgive them. But we say to God, please forgive my trespasses, my selfishness, my meanness, just like I forgive others. God wants us to be just as forgiving as He is.” ~ “The Lord’s Prayer,” “Little Falcons,” issue #39, pp. 13-14, available at http://www.littlefalcons.net/pdf/2014_Backissues.pdf

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“This should be the most terrifying line of the prayer.  We may not always stop to ponder its significance, but this line suggests that if we are not forgiving of others, we should not expect to receive forgiveness.  He further clarifies it in the Scriptures — Matthew 6:14-15:  ‘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 Father forgive your trespasses.’  Our students recognized the parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18: 21-25) right away — God has forgiven each of us so much, and if we cannot learn from that experience and feel merciful and forgiving to others, then the mercies we have received will fade away.  We explained that it’s not that God is punishing us, it’s just that if we aren’t forgiving, we cannot receive forgiveness; somehow, the state of our heart is only open to forgiveness when we can humbly pass along forgiveness too.” ~ from https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/raisingsaints/teaching-lords-prayer/

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“Let us notice at the outset that this petition directly unites two acts: the forgiveness of our sins by God is connected to our forgiveness of sins committed against us… And, of course, precisely here in this connection, in this relationship lies the profound mystery of forgiveness in the Lord’s Prayer.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p. 65-66

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“For the profound law of Life consists not simply in doing no wrong, but in doing good, and this means first of all to accept the other, which means to effect that unity without which even the most law-abiding society still becomes a living hell. This is the essence of sin, and it is for the remission of this sin, the sin of all sins, that we pray in the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p. 70

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“Perhaps the terrible tragedy of our time, of those societies in which we live, consists precisely in the fact that while there is much to talk about legality and justice, while many assorted texts are cited, these societies have almost entirely lost the power and morality of forgiveness. This is why the petition in the Lord’s prayer for forgiveness of sins of those who sinned against us, and of us and our sins by God, and possibly the very center of moral rebirth before which we stand in this age.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” pp. 71-72

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Idea: Use this simple hands-on object lesson to teach your Sunday Church School students about the importance of forgiveness: http://meaningfulmama.com/day-346-weight-lifted-through.html. This activity can help your students think about what it is like to live in unforgiveness, and why it is better to forgive: http://preteenministry.net/bible-lessons-on-forgiveness-for-kids/

On the Lord’s Prayer: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

On the Lord’s Prayer: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

 

This petition in the Lord’s Prayer focuses on something very basic: bread. People all over the world eat bread of some form or another, usually daily, and in some cases, for every meal. Asking God to give us our daily bread comes naturally. After all, we look to Him to supply our needs, even our most basic ones like bread. This phrase serves the dual purpose of reminding us that every single thing we have comes from God, while also giving us the opportunity to acknowledge our dependence on Him. The petition serves a third purpose as well: it begs God to give us the one thing we need the most: His Body, in the Holy Eucharist; that through that Gift we may be saved.

Read more about this petition here: 

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“The prayer for our ‘daily bread’ is normally understood to signify generally all of our bodily needs and whatever we require to sustain our lives in this world. In the spiritual tradition however, this petition, because it literally says our ‘essential’ or ‘super-essential’ bread, is often understood in the spiritual sense to mean the nourishment of our souls by the Word of God, Jesus Christ who is the ‘Bread of Life;’ the ‘Bread of God which has come down from heaven and given life to the world’ (John 6:33-36); the bread which ‘a man may eat of it and not die,’ but ‘live forever.’ (John 6:50-51) Thus the prayer for ‘daily bread’ becomes the petition for daily spiritual nourishment through abiding communion with Christ so that one might live perpetually with God.” ~ Read more at https://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/spirituality/prayer-fasting-and-alms-giving/the-lords-prayer

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“After the Korean War ended, South Korea was left with a large number of children who had been orphaned by the war. We’ve seen the same thing in the Vietnam conflict, in Bosnia, and in other places. In the case of Korea, relief agencies came in to deal with all the problems that arose in connection with having so many orphan children. One of the people involved in this relief effort told me about a problem they encountered with the children who were in the orphanages. Even though the children had three meals a day provided for them, they were restless and anxious at night and had difficulty sleeping. As they talked to the children, they soon discovered that the children had great anxiety about whether they would have food the next day. To help resolve this problem, the relief workers in one particular orphanage decided that each night when the children were put to bed, the nurses there would place a single piece of bread in each child’s hand. The bread wasn’t intended to be eaten; it was simply intended to be held by the children as they went to sleep. It was a ‘security blanket’ for them, reminding them that there would be provision for their daily needs. Sure enough, the bread calmed the children’s anxieties and helped them sleep. Likewise, we take comfort in knowing that our physical needs are met, that we have food, or ‘bread,’ for our needs.” ~ from http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-give-us-day-our-daily-bread-mean/

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“The word daily really means ‘substantive,’ that which is essential for survival, which is why we needed it as daily food…The bread signifies here not only bread as such, and not even food in general, but absolutely everything necessary for life, everything which makes possible our existence.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” pp. 55-56

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“The Eucharist, faith in participation in the new food, in the new and Heavenly bread, fulfill the Christian Revelation about food. And only in the light of this revelation, of the joy of this thanksgiving, can one adequately understand the full depth of this fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer; ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Give us, today, the food which is essential for us.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p. 60

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“ We receive bread, we receive life, but In order that the purpose of this life may be revealed. And the purpose of this life lies in God, in knowledge of him, in love for him, in communion with him, in the joy of his eternity, and in that life which the Gospel calls,’life in abundance.’ (John 10:10)” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p. 61

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Idea: This short lesson relates “Give us this day our daily bread” to the manna that God provided for His people in the wilderness. It includes a recipe for a yummy treat! http://www.sermons4kids.com/our_daily_bread.htm

On The Lord’s Prayer: Thy Will Be Done

 

This third petition in the Lord’s Prayer (after “hallowed be Thy name” and “Thy kingdom come”) is a pretty serious request. “Thy will be done” implies that we want what God wants, not what we want, to be what actually happens. In order for God’s will to be done, we must completely trust Him while fully laying down our own expectations and desires —our very will. Then and only then can His will truly be done.

 

Here are related quotes, as well as an idea for how to help your Sunday Church School students learn about this phrase of the Lord’s Prayer:

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“How do we discern the will of God for our lives? …Submitting ourselves to the will of God involves our entire being, not just our leftovers: not just our leftover time, our leftover talents, our leftover treasures… How committed to this Christian life are we, really? If God chooses to intervene in our lives, to overturn our well-laid plans, to rip us out of our comfort zones in order to insist upon our spiritual growth, are we essentially down with that?!?” ~ from http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/rain/the_lords_prayer_part_two

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“In the third petition, we beseech God the Father that He not allow us to live out our earthly lives according to our sinful ways, but according to His will, which is always good, and acceptable, and perfect (Rom. 12:2). By obeying the will of God, we begin to establish the Kingdom of God within ourselves.” ~ from http://www.antiochianarch.org.au/OrthodoxPrayer.aspx#prayer06

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“…when we truly desire God’s will be done in our lives, we recognize that the Lord, in His great love for us, knows what we need. We don’t want our prayers to be some sort of dictation to God, but rather reflecting our trust in God as a loving father Who desires that which we really need for our salvation.” ~Abbot Tryphon, http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/morningoffering/2015/03/thy-will-be-done/

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“I would have to say that precisely this petition, ‘Thy will be done’ is the ultimate yardstick of faith, the measure by which one can discern, in oneself first of all, profound from superficial faith, profound religiosity from a false one. Why? Well, because even the most ardent believer all too regularly, if not always, desires, expects, and asks from the God he claims to believe in that God would fulfill precisely his own will and not the will of God. The best proof of this is the Gospel itself, the account of Christ’s life. ” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p. 46.

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“What do we together and individually really desire from Christ? Let’s admit it — the fulfillment of our will. We desire that God will assure our happiness. We want him to defeat our enemies. We want him to realize our dreams and that he would consider us kind and good. And when God fails to do our will we are frustrated and upset, and are ready over and over to forsake and deny him. ‘Thy will be done’ — but in fact we are thinking, ‘our will be done,’ and thus this third petition of the Lord’s Prayer is… a kind of judgment on us, a judgment of our faith. ” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” pp. 48-49

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“‘Thy will be done.’ This means first of all: grant me strength and help me to understand what is your will, help me to overcome the limitations of my own reasoning, of my heart, my own will, in order to discern your paths, even if they are unclear at first. Help me to accept that which is difficult and seemingly unbearable or impossible in your will. Help me, in other words, to desire that which you desire.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p.51

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Idea: explore the meaning of “Thy will be done.” Ask your Sunday Church School students what it means for someone’s will to be done. Discuss the fact that the phrase “Thy will be done” means that what someone wants (in the case of the Lord’s Prayer, what God wants) is done in the way that they (He) want(s) it to be done. Talk about whether or not we each actually always do God’s will, which is what we pray in the Lord’s prayer. Ask your students how they think God must feel when we do not do His will.

Demonstrate the concept with this object lesson: select a simple process that one of your students will be knowledgeable about and would have a desire to do (such as getting ready to go outside to play; making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a snack; or drawing and coloring a picture). Tell the child that he/she is in charge of you, and that they should give you directions of their “will,” which you will carry out to complete the process. As they direct you, at times follow their directions, allowing their will to be done. However, once in a while do not follow the child’s will/directions. (Be careful not to unduly frustrate the child by always disobeying! After all, in life, we sometimes DO obey God – just not always. Demonstrate that with your obedience.)

When the task is finally finished, talk about how the process went: when was it the best/most smooth? When was it frustrating or challenging for the person with “the will?” Did the final product turn out the way the student imagined or intended? Apply this experience to each person’s journey with God. Encourage each other to work towards always following God’s will, thus fulfilling what we say when we pray, “Thy will be done!”

 

On the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy Kingdom Come”

What are we really saying when we pray, “Thy kingdom come?”

It will help us to begin thinking about this question by remembering what a kingdom is. A kingdom is a realm where a king is the ruler. So, God’s kingdom is where He is ruling; where He is in charge.

But, what is God’s kingdom? There are several ways we can look at it. We can certainly think of God’s kingdom as the place where He is already ruling perfectly: Heaven. We could also think of His kingdom as the age to come, when He returns to earth with power and glory, to rule and reign. Both of those focus on a time and place beyond us, where God rules. However, there is a third place where God’s kingdom can exist that is much more personal, and should be coming right now. This third place is in our very lives. When we are living as we should, God is ruling our life, and His kingdom comes in our life and impacts everyone around us!

So, when we pray “Thy kingdom come,” we are not just looking forward to experiencing His kingdom in heaven, where He rules perfectly, or referencing His return to rule the earth. Both of those aspects of God’s kingdom are real and important. Besides those, however, we are also asking that He enable us to live our life in such a way that He rules over it, changing us and blessing those around us through His kingdom, come, in our life..

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On the phrase “Thy kingdom come:” “This line is not merely an observation that Christ will return, but is another call to action:  when we say Thy Kingdom come, we are inviting the Kingdom in!  Our native Greek speakers recognize this immediately, and had to explain to the English speakers that this is an invitation, like ‘Come, dear Kingdom!’  We are inviting the Lord to reign over us, asking to be made His servants.  We invite servitude, that we might carry the Kingdom in our hearts.  More than recognizing that the Kingdom will be here eventually, we are asking to become a part of the Kingdom today.” ~ https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/raisingsaints/teaching-lords-prayer/

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“To pray that this kingdom [God’s kingdom] comes continually and eternally into being is no small matter… as we know from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, our entry into this kingdom is dearly purchased and radically achieved… Citizenship in this kingdom supercedes all others.” Fr. Apostolos, http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/rain/the_lords_prayer_part_two

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“We want to be part of that kingdom of God’s friends on earth. When we receive Holy Communion and participate in the other sacraments, it shows that we love and accept God as our king. It shows we want to try to live according to His law.” ~ “The Lord’s Prayer,” “Little Falcons,” issue #39, available at http://www.littlefalcons.net/pdf/2014_Backissues.pdf

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“Indeed, what are we praying for when we pronounce these absolutely unique words, ‘Thy kingdom come?’ Above all, of course, we pray that this encounter may take place now, here, and today, in the present circumstances… Furthermore, we desire that the whole world, which so evidently lies in evil and longing, in fear and in striving, would see and receive this light… We pray also that God would help us not to betray this kingdom… and that finally, this kingdom of God would come in power, as Christ says.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” pp. 40-41

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“In a sense it isn’t even a prayer, rather it is the heartbeat of anyone who has at least once in his life seen, felt, loved the light and joy of God’s kingdom and who knows that it is the beginning, the content, and the fulfillment of everything which lives.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” pp. 41-42

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Idea: Read this parable about God’s kingdom (http://www.kidssundayschool.com/478/gradeschool/at-the-carnival.php) with elementary-aged children. Together discuss the parable, and how it compares to God’s kingdom. In what ways does the parable explain the Kingdom well? How does it fall short?

Older children can look up the following parables that Jesus told. Each parable talks about God’s kingdom. As you read each one, discuss what Jesus was teaching about God’s kingdom, through the parable. Here are the parables, with a somewhat descriptive name and where they are found in the Gospels: The Hidden Treasure (Matt. 13:44); The Pearl of Great Price (Matt. 13: 45-46); Household Treasures (Matt. 13:52); Leaven/Yeast (Matt. 13:33 and Luke 13:18-19); Scattered Seed That Grows (Mark 4:26-29); The Fishing Net (Matthew 13:47-50).

On the Lord’s Prayer: “Hallowed be Thy name”

‘Hallowed’ means holy. God’s name is already holy, whether or not we say so! But when we pray “Hallowed be Thy name,” we are saying that we want other people to recognize the holiness of His name. We want them to know that He is holy. The best way for others to learn about God’s holiness is for us, the Body of Christ on earth, to live in a holy way. After all, as CHRISTians, we have taken on Christ’s name as a descriptor of the life we intend to lead! So, how we live reflects back on Him, in the eyes of our family and friends. Our life either shows His holiness, or we have much work to do (and forgiveness to ask from God and from those around us)!

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“When I pray saying ‘Hallowed be Thy Name,’ the meaning of these words apply to me actualizing God’s blessings. Lord, through the cooperation of Your help, may I become blameless, just and pious. Abstaining from every evil, may I speak the truth, practicing righteousness and walking on the straight path. May I shine with prudence, be adorned with incorruption, and be beautified with wisdom and discernment. Overlooking earthly things, may I set my mind on the things above (Col 3:2) and be radiant with the angelic manner of life.” ~ St. Gregory of Nyssa, in his commentary on the Lord’s Prayer. Read more in this blog post: http://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.com/2014/08/what-does-hallowed-be-thy-name-mean.html

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“‘Hallowed be thy name’ —this is the cry of the one who has seen and recognized God, and knows that only in this vision and encounter can he find the fullness of life, full inspiration, and full happiness.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p. 29

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“‘Hallowed be thy name’ —may everything in the world, beginning with my own life, my deeds, my words be a reflection of this sacred and divine name, which has been revealed and given to us…

“‘Hallowed be thy name’ — this is also a petition for help in the difficult effort in this ascension and transformation, for we are surrounded and held captive to darkness, evil, pettiness, superficiality, turmoil…” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p.30

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“How rarely we pronounce these words, acknowledging all this, and yet how good it is that we repeat them again and again. For it is only while these words, ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ remain heard in the world, while they are not forgotten, that man will not be entirely depersonalized, that he will not totally betray the vocation for which he was created by God.” ~ Alexander Schmemann, “Our Father,” p.32

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Idea: Gather a mirror (smudged with dirt or dust) and a polishing rag. Pass the mirror around so everyone can look at themselves, to see how clearly they can see their image. Then, take the polishing rag and clean the mirror completely. Pass it around again and allow each person to see if their image is clearer now.

Then discuss this part of the Lord’s prayer, and the following quote: “… it’s like we each have a mirror inside of us, and if that mirror is no longer filthy but has been polished by the sacraments and by love, when God’s love shines on us we can reflect it, magnifying it and spreading that light to the world. If we wish to make God’s name hallowed when we say it, then we too must be clean and bright, free from sin and iniquity and filth, so that we can reflect and even magnify God’s glorious name, hallowing it.” https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/raisingsaints/teaching-lords-prayer/

Talk again about the mirror. Which way was it easier to see the details of your face? If we are living as described in the quote, “polished” by the sacraments and by love, we will reflect God’s love more perfectly, and His name will be hallowed, as it should be.

Pray the Lord’s Prayer together, and then ask Him for help, that you may live a life that indeed hallows His name.

On the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father Who art in heaven”

The Lord’s Prayer begins, “Our Father…”  From the very beginning of the prayer, we see that we are speaking with Someone Who loves us: our Father. We see that we are speaking to Someone Whom we respect: our Father. We see that we are approaching Someone Who is bigger and stronger than we are: our Father. And although Christ could have taught us to pray, “My Father…,” He does not keep us from His Father, but rather includes us in His Family by teaching us to pray, “OUR Father…”

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It continues, “Who art in heaven.” The ‘heavens’ completely surround our planet. This phrase reminds us that God is over us all and everywhere around us! We say that He is omnipresent. (Does “Who art everywhere present and fillest all things” sound familiar?) Just as the sky is great, beautiful, and infinite, so is God. He’s actually infinitely more great, beautiful, and deep!

And this infinitely great, beautiful, deep God who is everywhere present knows and loves each of us, and invites us to call Him ‘Our Father.’

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“The first thing Christ offers to those who ask him to teach them to pray, the very first thing he leaves them as a priceless gift and consolation, as joy and inspiration, is the possibility of calling God, “Father…” ~ Schmemann, p. 19, http://www.svspress.com/our-father/

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“There was no such prayer before this teaching of Christ. The Old Testament people did not address God as ‘Abba: Father.’ (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6) This name of ‘Father’ for God is given by Christ, the divine Son of God. Men can dare, ‘with boldness and without condemnation’ to call upon the ‘heavenly God’ with the name of ‘Father’ only when they are made worthy to do so by Christ.” From http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith/spirituality/prayer-fasting-and-alms-giving/the-lords-prayer

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“‘Our Father’ — here we find the meaning of love, and the answer to love, here lies the experience of intimacy and the joy of this experience, here faith opens into trust, and independence yields to freedom, intimacy, and ultimately unfolds as joy. This is no longer an idea about God, but already knowledge of God, this is already communion with him in love, in unity, and trust.” ~ Schmemann, p. 20, http://www.svspress.com/our-father/

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“The words ‘Who art in heaven’ do not mean that God is far away. When we think of God, we think of his greatness, goodness, and glory. God is so great that space cannot contain Him. Heaven reminds us that besides the world we see and can touch and taste there is another world. We call this other world or new kind of life — Heaven. We get a glimpse of it in the Divine Liturgy. We cannot see it now but it is just as real.” From “The Lord’s Prayer,” Little Falcons #39, Prayer, p. 12. (http://www.littlefalcons.net/pdf/2014_Backissues.pdf)

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“… And here the whole prayer (and with it our whole life) is lifted up, is raised to heaven, for heaven is, after all, that vertical dimension of life, that reference of man to the higher and spiritual…” ~ Schmemann, p. 21, http://www.svspress.com/our-father/

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Idea: Find simple experiments that can help you explain “omnipresence” to children in this science-focused lesson plan that teaches us about God’s presence everywhere, here: http://storage.cloversites.com/waipunachapel/documents/Kaboom%20Week%205%20Omnipresent.pdf

On The Lord’s Prayer: an Introduction

The Lord’s Prayer is an integral part of an Orthodox Christian’s life. Our Lord Himself taught us to pray this prayer, so we know that it is both important and right for us to pray in this way. We find this prayer in the Holy Scriptures in Luke 11:1-4 and also in Matthew 6:7-14. We pray this prayer daily at home. This prayer is also an important part of our church services. It is important that we teach our children how to pray the Lord’s Prayer so that they can participate with the family at home and also with the church family during the Divine services.

But is it enough for the children to learn the words to the prayer? Is it not much more important for them to pray the words with cognizance of their meaning? How can we help our children to understand what they are saying when they pray this wonderful prayer? Over the next few weeks our blog posts will focus on the Lord’s Prayer, looking at the prayer piece by piece, and delving into its meaning and importance. We will share quotes from Alexander Schmemann’s book, Our Father, and include ideas of ways to help our students to learn the prayer.

Our goal is to learn to better pray the Lord’s Prayer, and to help our Sunday Church School students to do so as well.

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Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13, cf Luke 11:2-4)

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Order the booklet on the Lord’s Prayer that was written by Mother Alexandra (formerly Princess Ileana of Romania), from the Holy Transfiguration Monastery which she founded. The booklet features a brief meditation/prayer based on each part of the Lord’s Prayer, one for the morning and another for the evening, for every day of the week. This booklet is a wonderful tool for your own spiritual growth. It would also make a great gift. It costs only $1 plus shipping. Inquire at: omtstore@gmail.com

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“This prayer has been said without interruption for two thousand years. At every moment somewhere on the globe people are saying those very words which were once uttered by Christ himself. This is why we have no better path to the very heart of Christianity than by this short, and on first observation simple, prayer.” ~ Schmemann, p. 16, http://www.svspress.com/our-father/

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Idea: Find ideas for creating a “Lord’s Prayer in a Bag” activity to use in introducing the prayer here: http://www.buildfaith.org/2013/02/21/the-lords-prayer-in-a-bag/

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“Let me begin this explanation by saying directly that its meaning is inexhaustible, that it is impossible to give this prayer one final and conclusive explanation. As with the Gospels, The Lord’s Prayer is always addressed to each of us personally anew, in a way which makes it seem to have been composed specifically for me, for my needs, for my questions, for my pilgrimage. Yet, at the same time it remains eternal and unchanging in its essence, always calling us to what is most important, to the ultimate, to the highest.” ~ Schmemann, p. 17, http://www.svspress.com/our-father/