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Approaching the Lord's Prayer

Approaching the Lord's Prayer

Tags: Religion, Christianity

От редакции: 25 January, Georgy Velikanov, the singer of the Church of the All-Merciful Savior in Mitino, the first press-secretary of the service "Mercy", the author of the portal Orthodoxy.Ru, died, saving an unknown homeless man who fell on the rails of the Krasnogorskaya railway platform. George, who had a theological education and dreamed of becoming a priest, remained Natalia's wife.

Shortly before his death, George sent two articles to our editorial office. One, dedicated to understanding the prayer "Our Father", we publish today, the other - about the mystery of the Cross of Christ - will be reserved until the Crusader Week of Great Lent.

The Kingdom of Heaven and eternal rest to the servant of God George!

Georgiy Velikanov

In one of his conversations about the Lord's prayer, Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh says that for a long time he could not understand her, find his personal "key" to her. Having enlisted the support of this wonderful and great man, I dare to admit the same!

This in itself is surprising, because the Lord's prayer is central to all Christianity, it's not without reason that they say: "Learn as our Father." It is probably pronounced every few times daily (whether we take the usual, or "Seraphim" rule, or the early Christian custom of pronouncing "Our Father" in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening), in the temple we can hear it three times in a row (on the Clock and liturgy). Written mountains of interpretations and comments ...

The most important prayer given by the Lord remains for us and the most misunderstood

However, perhaps, that is why the most important prayer given by the Lord remains for some of us and the most misunderstood. Her fame and repeatability creates an addictive effect, which means an illusion that we have exhausted her content. Incidentally, this is reflected in the worship: for example, reading "from the Trisagion in Our Father's Prayer" at the All-Night Vigil - in ancient times one of the solemn moments of this service (read then the Primate or the oldest clergyman) - today can be psychologically perceived even as an "intermission" , a break between the more important - because not such "bored" - parts of worship ... It is no accident now that the Holy Trinity is read not by the chief priest, but by a simple sexton, and reads, more often, respectively, namely "ka sexton. "

Forgive me if I express only my personal problem of "getting used to" prayer. Thank God if you do not have it. But there is another - and, I am sure, universal - the problem, the one that the prayer "Our Father" does by the spiritual Everest, to climb onto which is not only super complicated but also dangerous.

The fact is that the Lord's prayer unfolds before us a whole program of Christian life. Without the implementation of this program, prayer itself will remain an empty sound. It requires years of effort, labor and sweat, and, most importantly, determination to change completely. And we are invited to make a leap from the foot of Everest to its top (or vice versa - about this below).

Judge for yourself: for some half a minute, at best, a minute (be it a prayer rule or a service in the temple), we managed to "summon the summons," ie, to call God our Father, ask Him to establish His Kingdom, His will was done on earth as in heaven - that is, completely and completely, which can not mean anything other than the final victory of Christ, His Coming and Heavenly Jerusalem ... Well, about deliverance from the evil one and all his wiles, that is again the same - about the Kingdom of Heaven, which came not for one "me", but for all "Us" ...

And all this is uttered by the habitual patter.

Clearly clear that it is impossible to "pray". Only "promilitetvoslovit." You simply will not grasp either the mind or the heart of all the enormous content behind the words of prayer. Especially for her initial words. After all, whatever one may say, the words "Hallowed be Your Name", "The Kingdom of Heaven" today for us (unlike early Christians) too often sound abstractly, or even associated with grave mounds ... During my life I happened to meet very much few believing people who actually "chaya", i.e. with impatience and ardent expectation expect "the resurrection of the dead and the life of the future century", they ask in personal prayer and are really waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God, the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21, 1).

The reason is simple. In order to become such an evangelical person, you need to change. It is necessary that your whole being is imbued with that mood, which is expressed in the Lord's prayer, and for this you need to enter into such a relationship with God that at least somehow resembles the relationship of Christ with the Father, for this is what He Himself says: I ascend to the Father To my - and your Father, and to My God and your God (John 20, 17). Pp. Justin (Popovich) gives an amazing, poetic definition of the process of the entry of the human personality into such relationships: ohristivlenie.

And here comes the conjecture.

... The disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray, just as John taught his disciples (Luke 11, 1). Probably, John the Baptist gave his followers some special, prayer-specific formula for their community - and the apostles of Christ are waiting for the same. But our Lord is always "unpredictable". He does not give a rigid formula, once and for all unchanging text - this is indirectly indicated by the difference in the options of the Lord's prayer in the Evangelists Matthew and Luke. Jesus gives an example of how His disciples are called to pray, in what spirit, in what mood. What they should ask, wish, want. Moreover, according to Luke, the Lord in the further explanations actually reduces the whole content of his prayer to one petition: the gift of the Holy Spirit (Luke 11, 13). And he gives a promise that such a request will be fulfilled.

Then the early Church made from the Lord's prayer precisely the "formula", the liturgical text, as it appears in the Gospel of Matthew. Probably, it was inevitable, although it led to those "minuses", about which we spoke at the beginning: the meaning of prayer for many turned out to be "overwritten" by an endless repetition of the same words.

The Lord's prayer can be made a genuine "ladder" of spiritual ascent

However, there are advantages in this situation - and such, which, if properly used, can lead, in fact, to profound relationships with the Author of prayer, with the Father and the Spirit, to the transformation of the whole person. Namely: the Lord's prayer can be made a genuine "ladder" of spiritual ascent. Different people use different "methods" for this, but what they all agree on is that it is necessary to read the "Our Father" slowly, plunging the mind into words, lingering on each petition, and maybe every word separately. Actually, this advice (often found, for example, by St. Theophanes the Recluse) applies to any other prayer text. But, perhaps, the Lord's prayer "needs" like no other - both because of its central importance for a Christian, and because of its custom.

One could hear such an opinion that for a thoughtful, heartfelt reading of the Lord's prayer, it takes at least three minutes. It's minimum. Elder Sofroniy (Sakharov) read the "Our Father" during the Athonite period of his ascetic life, and at the end of his life reached such a state that he simply could not bring the prayer to its end - after the first words he burst into tears ... Apparently, he realized the significance of this reverential, contrite, in the spirit of God's fear, but at the same time such a childlike and intimate tender appeal to the Father with such depth that it is difficult for us to imagine ...

But apart from the "slow reading" and along with it there is one more method. He was offered by Met. Anthony of Sourozh: begin your movement along the path of the Lord's prayer from ... its end to the beginning. At the same time, Vladyka connects the Lord's prayer with the narrative of the book Exodus about the wanderings of the Israeli people from slavery to freedom. We will not now give a deep reflection of Met. Anthony, but we take only the method itself: to start prayer from its last petitions, to move on to the previous ones - and so on to the very beginning.

This way of reading gives unexpectedly surprising results. For me it was a real discovery.

The point is that if you start the Lord's prayer as it is given, that is, from the first petitions, personally I immediately encounter almost insurmountable difficulties, which for a long time did not allow me to approach this community, although, of course, I "prayed" it daily.

"Our Father"… In fact, I feel God - my (and not only "universal") Father, according to St. Siluan Afonsky, relatives and friends? Do I have such an experience? .. Without an honest answer, you will "pray" rather than pray. With an honest answer "No" - you will fight, cry out, pray that this experience was given to you personally, lamenting that while you do not have it. Or, again, it's warm to say a prayer. An honest answer "yes" means that, albeit in a miserable measure, you have achieved the goal for which the Lord's prayer was given - adopted the Father in Christ and experienced it. And now your Christian life will be radically different ...

"Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done" all over the Earth are all such scales ... How can I pray for the fulfillment of the will of God for all mankind, when I myself constantly go against it in my life? How can I ask for the coming of the Kingdom of God on a planetary scale, when it has not yet come to my own heart, or rather it is there (inside of you - Luke 17, 20), from the moment of Baptism and Confirmation, is, but I'm not there? How dare I pray "May Thy Name be hallowed", if it does not rejoice in my heart and life, and I even really do not know how it should look like ...?

Of course, I can pronounce these sacred words as if on a wave of support for the entire Church, Heavenly and earthly, who is praying with me. Finally, I can rely on the prayer of Christ Himself, Which is hard to imagine! - he prays with me and calls his Father also my ... And this is necessary and necessary. At the Liturgy, from some point on, I am called upon to forget about myself, even about my unworthiness, for "the Holy One is holy," to put on Christ and together with all the faithful to say the prayer "Our Father" as the Lord Himself pronounced. He granted me this privilege.

But if I myself do not allow myself to grow through prayer, but rely only on the prayer of my brothers and sisters, including the One who, being God, became our Brother, I will never be able to fully perceive the gifts that are hidden in the Lord's prayer . Probably, it's like Communion: Christ enters each of us with His Body and Blood, but everyone is sanctified to the best of his readiness and inner openness to the Sacrament.

Christ, the Immaculate and the One with the Father, began His prayer with requests for what His soul lives: in the words of the apostle, that all be saved and come to the understanding of the truth (compare 1 Timothy 2, 4) that the whole creation submit to its Creator (compare 1 Corinth 15, 28) and found the revelation of the children of God in the person of us, people (compare Rom. 8, 19); about that, in the end, God became all in all (1 Corinth 15, 28).

This is the content of His heart.

But, alas, not mine.

For me, a fallen man, such a state is the ultimate goal of the path, the one that is called in deification by the holy fathers. And that's why I need to gradually come to her.

And the spiritual path begins with repentance. With the realization of the disastrous situation in which I now am under the rule of the prince who rules the air (Eph. 2, 2). With the understanding that it's impossible to live like this, there is an abyss below me.

It is much more understandable for me to begin the Lord's prayer from its end

And so it is much more natural and clear for me to start the Lord's prayer from its end. I ask the Lord, perhaps not even sensing His intimacy and care, not knowing for sure whether He is the Father to me - knowing only with reason - I ask Him to snatch me out of the clutches of sin, death and their "author" of Satan: "Save me from the evil one!" This is the beginning of the Christian path, this is the beginning of the sacrament of Baptism: before you combine with Christ, you must renounce Satan, "and all his deeds, all his pride, and all his ministry."

But if I am attentive to myself, then very quickly I understand that the crafty pursues me at every step and will not leave to death, for he is like a lion roaring, seeking, whom to absorb (compare 1 Pet. 5, 8-9). Networks are spread everywhere, as Antony the Great saw. And in me a cry is born: "Do not lead me into temptation!" Do not deprive me of Your protection, do not leave me when I leave you, hold me where I want to fall, Lord, or I do not want to or save - save me!

When I see how I constantly besiege temptations and passions, two interconnected feelings awaken within me: contrition and compassion for my brothers. I understand that I, and he, and she, and all of us, the inhabitants of the planet Earth - are comrades in misfortune and at the same time by their highest vocation. How can I condemn, be angry with others, when I myself constantly fall? And yet I continue to condemn, get angry, resent and not forgive ... But I understand at least with my mind how wild and unnatural it is.

"Leave us our debts, as we forgive our debtors". Debt is not even a sin. This is something good that you should have done and not done. I know perfectly well and often remember who and what I "missed" in my life. Such situations, especially those related to loved ones, leave deep wounds in the soul, and they bleed. Sometimes for years we can not free ourselves from the deeply hidden and poisonous whole spiritual (and physical) body of resentment, which seems to have been "forgiven." And that's why I often do not even dare to pray "forgive me my debts, as I forgive" - ​​I would immediately be convicted! God forbid that God forgive us as we forgive! I only pray with timid hope: teach forgive me as You forgive me. Let that forgiveness, mercy and compassion, coming from Eternity, from God, who truly behaves like a Father who completely forgot about Himself, let these gracious feelings that You give me to experience at the confessional analogue will spill over into my relationships with people. Teach me to forgive your forgiveness and to love with your love. And then, one day, I can say with all my heart together with Christ: forgive me, as I forgive!

Here we are already approaching the next petition of the Lord's prayer, the fourth from the end. So that I can forgive God's forgiveness and love Him with love, I need "Daily bread", The bread of His daily presence in my life. This image embraces literally everything from bread, physical food, without which we can not live - to the Bread of the Eucharist, which almost all the holy fathers see in this petition. Both - "God's love that has become edible" (the words of Father Alexander Schmemann), it is not accidental that in the ancient times the Eucharist was performed right at the time of the meal. Everything in life is His mercy. We ask for our daily bread, for God's love to feed our soul and body daily. In the state of fall, "skin-riz", when our nature is coarsened, we are weakly susceptible to this Love and hardly realize the very need for it. That's why "until the thunder strikes, the man does not cross himself." And in this stifling space of sin, we try to open the windows to Heaven, to His Presence, so that the fresh wind of the Holy Spirit will not let our spirit die. These windows are prayer, the Word, the sacraments. But the task is to gradually, through our "daily bread", His grace permeated our whole life.

And then, having felt the searing need for grace, compassion for brothers and sisters, near and far, who, like us, suffer from its shortage - and this is the sole cause of all suffering on earth - we approach the radiant peaks of the Lord's prayer.

Beginning to pray with the first (ie, the last) prayers, I used the first person of the singular. I am the first and only sinner who needs salvation, deliverance from the evil and all his temptations, forgiveness and the ability to forgive - although I do not realize this. But, having gone this way is the way of prayer, for everything in life is a prayer-dialogue with the Giver of life - having passed the way to that spiritual "location" where we stopped, I would find my deep kinship with all people and stop praying only about to himself, but he would cry out from the face of all those who are suffering and who seek the Person of God. And such are deep in the heart of all people. Repentance and compassion reveal the unity of all with all that is hidden from our ordinary, superficial glance.

But I do not know anything about that yet. Here is the experience of the saints. Such a state is a monkhood of the spirit, for the monk, according to the opinion of the elder Zosima (Sokura), sympathizes with everyone, pities everyone and wishes everyone what he himself aspires by all the forces of the soul-salvation.

And how is it possible to save one "me" without "all"? The very idea is an oxymoron, because salvation in its fullness is a state when God is all in all (1 Corinth 15, 28). We do not touch upon the secrets of the House-building of God, we do not affirm apokatastasis. We only ascertain from the experience of the saints the fact about which St.Petersburg best said. Silouan: "love can not bear" the death of someone. The spirit in the saints prays with unspeakable sighs (Rom. 8, 26) about the salvation of all.

Therefore, when the thirst for the Bread of grace, the Bread of God Himself reaches a certain measure in man, it includes more and more neighbors and eventually all people. That's when he can only praise God with a "pure heart". Then, having united with the prayer of Christ Himself, he boldly, like a son, approaches God, asking: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!" Thy Kingdom come! Hallowed be Thy Name! "

May it be holy in my heart unceasingly. May your kingdom come to my soul that has suffered for it. Thy will be done in my life, as in all the earth. Hallowed be Thy Name in our hearts. Thy Kingdom come to all those who thirst for it. Thy will be done of all of us - and your will is our sanctification (cf 1 Thess. 4, 3). May the image of the world pass away, and may Your Kingdom come. Maranatha!

So, perhaps, a person prays, then about himself, then about specific people, then about all people in general. Or maybe there is only prayer for others - I do not know. This is the mystery of the prayer books. We hear testimonies of their experience, but they are only reflections of that Fire that is hidden in their lives together with Christ in God (Col. 3, 3).

... And then, at some point, there can be only one thing left: FATHER. Because you ... have received the Spirit of adoption, which we cry: "Abba, Father!" (Rom. 8, 15). As we know from the life of Silvan Athos, he constantly experienced this "circular prayer": from himself to others and from them to the contemplation of God, and then, filled with love and grace, again to prayer for others ...

Perhaps many of us do not even know what the first prayers of the Lord say ...

But we have a way, there is an opportunity to take the first steps - the first from the end.

Of course, everyone has different experiences. Many of us, even at the beginning of the journey, are given something from the Fire that constantly burns in the saints, and at such times we can with the sympathy of the heart say the Lord's prayer from its beginning. But prayer has not yet become our life. For the time being, it only makes us happy with the warmth and glow of this fire, the Burning Bush, absorbing the whole being of the righteous. It seems to us that these shots are already enough - they are really enough at the stage of the path where we are. Perhaps ahead is the desert of temptations, the "dark night" of apparent dejection. Then it will be necessary to say holy words instead of feeling, especially the first petitions of the Lord's prayer, without feeling any response in the soul ... But in any case, each of us can, by taking the Lord's prayer, determine in what its "point" he is at the moment.


Christ descends, "kneeling down the heavens," according to the ladder of prayer in our world, from the upper "steps" to the lower ones. It descends, calling and revealing the Kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. It descends to sanctify the Father's Name, to fulfill His will, to give up the Bread of His Body, to suffer temptations, to write off all the debts of each one of us, to reconcile even to death, and by His visible defeat forever defeat us for the evil one. It is the Divine kenosis, His part in the divine-human synergy.

We are ascending, escaping from evil, falling and constantly turning back, struggling with temptations, learning to forgive, craving for bread, gradually surrendering to His will, to the extent of this tradition, eating His kingdom - righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14 , 17) and learning the mysterious power of His Name, approaching Him more and more, like children to the Father. We go up the steps of the Lord's prayer to where the Kingdom of the Blessed Trinity awaits us - our Father who is in heaven awaits.

Such is the human feat, our role in the divine-human synergy.

The Lord's Prayer is the point of the Meeting of these two - descending and ascending - movements. A mediator who puts his hands on the shoulders of God and man at the same time (compare Job 9, 33) - the Only-Begotten Son, the One Who says to God: "Abba, Father, Daddy!" And sends His Spirit, so that we can also to His Father as well (compare Romans 8, 15, Gal. 4, 6).


... Jacob awoke from his sleep and said: how terrible this place is - and I did not know ... (compare Gen. 28, 16-17).

How great, terrible, dizzying, but beautiful is the ladder of the Lord's prayer - and I did not know ...

Georgiy Velikanov
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