Matt. 6:9-13 (Part 2)

ORIGEN: “Hallowed be Your name.” Although this may represent either that the object of prayer has not yet come to pass, or after its attainment, that it is not permanent in which case the request is for its retention; the language in this instance makes it plain that it is with the implication that the name of the Father has not yet been hallowed, that we are bidden—according to Matthew and Luke, that is—to say “Hallowed be Your Name.” Then how, one might say, should a man request the hallowing of God's name as though not hallowed? Let us understand what the Father's name, and what the hallowing of it, means. A name is a summary designation descriptive of the peculiar character of the thing named.

Thus the Apostle Paul has a certain peculiar character, partly of soul which is accordingly of a certain kind, partly of intellect which is accordingly contemplative of certain things, and partly of body which is accordingly of a certain kind. It is the peculiar in these characteristics, the unique combination— for there is not another being identical with Paul—that is indicated by means of the appellation Paul. In the case of men, however, whose peculiar characteristics are changed, their names also by a sound usage are changed according to scripture.

When the character of Abram was transformed, he was called Abraham; when that of Simon he was named Peter, and when that of Saul the persecutor of Jesus, he was designated Paul. But in the case of God, inasmuch as He is himself ever unchangeable and unalterable, the proper name which even He may be said to bear is ever one, that mentioned in Exodus, “He that is,”  or the like. Since therefore, though we all have some notion of God, conceiving of Him in various ways, but not all of what He is, for few and, be it said, fewer than few are they who comprehend His complete holiness—we are with good reason taught to attain to a holy conception of Him in order that we may see His holiness as creator, provider, judge, elector, abandoner, acceptor, rejector, rewarder and punisher of each according to his desert. 

For it is in such and similar terms that God's peculiar character may be said to be sketched which I take to be the meaning of the expression, God's name according to the scriptures in Exodus: “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain;”  in Deuteronomy: “Be my utterance awaited as rain: as dew let my words descend, as showers upon herbage and as moisture upon grass: for I have called on the Lord's name;”  and in Psalms: “They shall remember your name in every generation.”  On Prayer. 

CYPRIAN: Let each one of us pray to God not only for himself, but for all the brethren, even as the Lord has taught us to pray, when He bids to each one, not private prayer, but enjoined them, when they prayed, to pray for all in common prayer and concordant supplication. If the Lord shall behold us humble and peaceable; if He will see us joined one with another; if He will see us fearful concerning His anger; if corrected and amended by the present tribulation, He will maintain us safe from the disturbances of the enemy. Discipline has preceded; pardon also will follow.

Let us only, without ceasing to ask, and with full faith that we will receive, in simplicity and unanimity beseech the Lord, entreating not only with groaning but with tears. The Epistles of Cyprian, 5.287.

CYPRIAN: He, among the rest of His salutary admonitions and divine precepts wherewith He counsels His people for their salvation, Himself also gave a form of praying—Himself advised and instructed us what we should pray for. He who made us to live, also taught us to pray, with that same kindness, that is to say, wherewith He has condescended to give and confer all things else; in order that while we speak to the Father in that prayer and supplication which the Son has taught us, we may be the more easily heard. Already He had foretold that the hour was coming “when the true worshippers should worship the Father in spirit and in truth;”  and He thus fulfilled what He before promised, so that we who by His sanctification have received the Spirit and truth, may also by His teaching worship truly and spiritually. For what can be a more spiritual prayer than that which was given to us by Christ, by whom also the Holy Spirit was given to us? What praying to the Father can be more truthful than that which was delivered to us by the Son who is the Truth, out of His own mouth? So that to pray otherwise than He taught is not ignorance alone, but also sin; since He Himself has established, and said, “You reject the commandments of God, that you may keep your own traditions.” 

Let us therefore, brethren beloved, pray as God our Teacher has taught us. It is a loving and friendly prayer to beseech God with His own word, to come up to His ears in the prayer of Christ. Let the Father acknowledge the words of His Son when we make our prayer, and let Him also who dwells within in our breast Himself dwell in our voice. And since we have Him as an Advocate with the Father for our sins, let us, when as sinners we petition on behalf of our sins, put forward the words of our Advocate. For since He says, that “whatsoever we shall ask of the Father in His name, He will give us,”  how much more effectually do we obtain what we ask in Christ’s name, if we ask for it in His own prayer! . . .

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 do not say, “My Father 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 do not pray 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. . . .

“After this manner,” He says, “pray: Our Father 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 did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in His name.”  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 only Him who is in heaven, as it is written: “They who say to 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.”  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.”  And to the disciple who had made mention of his dead father, He replied, “Let the dead bury their dead;”  for he had said that his father was dead, while the Father of believers is living.

Nor ought we, beloved brethren, only to observe and understand that we should call Him Father who is in heaven; but we add to it, and say our Father, that is, the Father of those who believe—of those who, being sanctified by Him, and restored by the nativity of spiritual grace, have begun to be sons of God. A word this, moreover, which rebukes and condemns the Jews, who not only unbelievingly despised Christ, who had been announced to them by the prophets, and sent first to them, but also cruelly put Him to death; and these cannot now call God their Father, since the Lord confounds and confutes them, saying, “You are born of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do. For he was a murderer from the beginning, and did not abide in the truth, because there is no truth in him.”  And by Isaiah the prophet God cries in wrath, “I have begotten and brought up children; but they have despised me. The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but Israel has not known me, and my people have not understood me. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with sins, a wicked seed, corrupt children! You have forsaken the Lord; you have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger.”  In repudiation of these, we Christians, when we pray, say “Our Father;” because He has begun to be ours, and has ceased to be the Father of the Jews, who have forsaken Him. Nor can a sinful people be a son; but the name of sons is attributed to those to whom remission of sins is granted, and to them immortality is promised anew, in the words of our Lord Himself: “Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant does not abide in the house forever, but the son abides forever.” 

But how great is the Lord’s indulgence! How great His condescension and plenteousness of goodness towards us, seeing that He has wished us to pray in the sight of God in such a way as to call God Father, and to call ourselves sons of God, even as Christ is the Son of God,—a name which none of us would dare to venture on in prayer, unless He Himself had allowed us thus to pray! We ought then, beloved brethren, to remember and to know, that when we call God Father, we ought to act as God’s children; so that in the measure in which we find pleasure in considering God as a Father, He might also be able to find pleasure in us. . . .

After this we say, “Hallowed be Your name;” not that we wish for God that He may be hallowed by our prayers, but that we beseech of Him that His name may be hallowed in us. But by whom is God sanctified, since He Himself sanctifies? Well, because He says, “Be holy, even as I am holy,”  we ask and entreat, that we who were sanctified in baptism may continue in that which we have begun to be. And this we daily pray for; for we have need of daily sanctification, that we who daily fall away may wash out our sins by continual sanctification. And what the sanctification is which is conferred upon us by the condescension of God, the apostle declares, when he says, “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor deceivers, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such indeed were you; but you are washed; but you are justified; but you are sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.”  He says that we are sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.  We pray that this sanctification may abide in us and because our Lord and Judge warns the man that was healed and quickened by Him, to sin no more lest a worse thing happen to him,  we make this supplication in our constant prayers, we ask this day and night, that the sanctification and quickening which is received from the grace of God may be preserved by His protection. The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.448-450.

CYPRIAN: It was not only in words, but in deeds also, that the Lord taught us to pray, Himself praying frequently and beseeching, and thus showing us, by the testimony of His example, what it behoved us to do, as it is written, “But Himself departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”  And again: “He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”  But if He prayed who was without sin, how much more ought sinners to pray; and if He prayed continually, watching through the whole night in uninterrupted petitions, how much more ought we to watch nightly in constantly repeated prayer!

But the Lord prayed and besought not for Himself—for why should He who was guiltless pray on His own behalf?—but for our sins, as He Himself declared, when He said to Peter, “Behold, Satan has desired that he might sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith does not fail.”  And subsequently He beseeches the Father for all, saying, “Neither do I pray for these alone, but for them also which will believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be one in us.”  The Lord’s loving-kindness, no less than His mercy, is great in respect of our salvation, in that, not content to redeem us with His blood, He in addition also prayed for us. Behold now what was the desire of His petition, that like as the Father and Son are one, so also we should abide in absolute unity; so that from this it may be understood how greatly he sins who divides unity and peace, since for this same thing even the Lord besought, desirous doubtless that His people should thus be saved and live in peace, since He knew that discord cannot come into the kingdom of God.
The Treatises of Cyprian, 5.455.

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