Editor's note:

Today, we look once again to the things that unite us as the Body of Christ. The Lord’s Prayer is surely one of these.

We’re sharing some thoughts from Cyprian on the prayer Jesus taught us to pray. In this excerpt, Cyprian focuses on the unity implied in the address “Our Father …” “When we pray,” he notes, “we pray not for one, but for the whole people, because we the whole people are one.”

(For a powerful sung rendition of this prayer, we commend to you Yolanda Adams’s tribute to the fallen in World Wars I & II at the 2010 National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C.)

—Renovaré Team

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, as in heaven so in earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And suffer us not to be led into temptation; but deliver us from evil. AmenMatthew 6:9

Before all things, the Teacher of peace and the Master of unity would not have prayer to be made singly and individually, as for one who prays to pray for himself alone. For we say not My Father, which art in heaven, nor Give me this day my daily bread; nor does each one ask that only his own debt should be forgiven him; nor does he request for himself alone that he may not be led into temptation, and delivered from evil. Our prayer is public and common; and when we pray, we pray not for one, but for the whole people, because we the whole people are one. The God of peace and the Teacher of concord, who taught unity, willed that one should thus pray for all, even as He Himself bore us all in one. This law of prayer the three children observed when they were shut up in the fiery furnace, speaking together in prayer, and being of one heart in the agreement of the spirit; and this the faith of the sacred Scripture assures us, and in telling us how such as these prayed, gives an example which we ought to follow in our prayers, in order that we may be such as they were: Then these three, it says, as if from one mouth sang an hymn, and blessed the Lord. (Song of the Three Children 28) They spoke as if from one mouth, although Christ had not yet taught them how to pray. And therefore, as they prayed, their speech was availing and effectual, because a peaceful, and sincere, and spiritual prayer deserved well of the Lord. Thus also we find that the apostles, with the disciples, prayed after the Lord’s ascension: They all, says the Scripture, continued with one accord in prayer, with the women, and Mary who was the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren. (Acts 1:14) They continued with one accord in prayer, declaring both by the urgency and by the agreement of their praying, that God, who makes men to dwell of one mind in a house, only admits into the divine and eternal home those among whom prayer is unanimous.

But what matters of deep moment are contained in the Lord’s prayer! How many and how great—briefly collected in the words, but spiritually abundant in virtue so that there is absolutely nothing passed over that is not comprehended in these our prayers and petitions, as in a compendium of heavenly doctrine. After this manner, says He, pray: Our Father, which art in heaven. The new man, born again and restored to his God by His grace, says Father, in the first place because he has now begun to be a son. He came, He says, to His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name. (John 1:11) The man, therefore, who has believed in His name, and has become God’s son, ought from this point to begin both to give thanks and to profess himself God’s son, by declaring that God is his Father in heaven; and also to bear witness, among the very first words of his new birth, that he has renounced an earthly and carnal father, and that he has begun to know as well as to have as a father Him only who is in heaven, as it is written: They who say unto their father and their mother, I have not known you, and who have not acknowledged their own children these have observed Your precepts and have kept Your covenant. (Deuteronomy 33:9) Also the Lord in His Gospel has bidden us to call no man our father upon earth, because there is to us one Father, who is in heaven. (Matthew 23:9) And to the disciple who had made mention of his dead father, He replied, Let the dead bury their dead (Matthew 8:22) for he had said that his father was dead, while the Father of believers is living.

Read more of Cyprian’s thoughts on the Lord’s Prayer HERE.

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Excerpted from Cyprian’s Treatise IV, “On the Lord’s Prayer,” 7-9. Available to read in its entirety at NewAdvent.org.