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Why not “my Father”, but “our”?

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Why not “my Father”, but “our”?


In Church Slavonic

Lord Jesus Christ, open your ears, hear your word, and understand and do your will, as a stranger am upon the earth: not a scorn of your commandments, but my eyes open, that I may understand the wonders of your law; tell me the unknown and the secret of thy wisdom. I hope in Thee, O my God, yes, enlighten the mind and sense with the light of your mind not only written in honor, but I also create, but I cannot read the saints of life and words to myself, but in the update, and the enlightenment, and the shrine, and the salvation of the soul, and the heritage of everlasting life. Yako thou art enlighten those who lie in darkness and from You is every gift of good and every gift is perfect. Amen.

In Russian

Lord Jesus Christ, open to me my heart’s ears, so that when I hear Your Word, I understand it and do Your will, because I am a stranger on earth. Do not hide your commandments from me, but open my eyes, so that I may comprehend the miracles of your law. Tell me your unknown and secret wisdom. I trust in You, my God, and I believe that You will enlighten my mind and meaning with the light of the knowledge of You, and that then I will not only read what is written, but also fulfill it. Make me not read my Word for sin, but in renewal and in enlightenment, and in shrine, and in the salvation of the soul, and in the inheritance of eternal life. For You, Lord, are those who lie in darkness, and from You are every good gift and every perfect gift. Amen.

Keep silent.

Read the Lord’s Prayer

9 Pray thus: Our Father in heaven! hallowed be thy name;
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven;
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
(Mat.6: 9-13)

Slowly re-read the appeal to God: Our Father in Heaven, and think about these words for two or three minutes. If you have any thoughts – write them down.

After that, answer the questions (better in writing)

Questions for Thought

Why does Christ command us not to pray “My Father”, but “Our Father”?

After answering the question, read:

Our comment

One anthropologist offered a game to the children of the African Zulus tribe. He placed a wicker basket full of fruit near a tree and told the children that he would be the first to reach the tree and win all the fruits.

When he gave a sign to start the race, all the children held hands and ran together, and then they sat down and enjoyed the prize together.

When the anthropologist asked them why they ran all together, when one could win all the fruits, they answered him: “Ubuntu!”. What does it mean – “how can one of us be happy if everyone else is sad?”

We Christians can learn a lot from this tribe. We have a common Father, and therefore we are Christians, brothers and sisters. In the New Testament, believers are called brothers about 350 times. Let us treat this not just as words, but as a genuine expression of intimacy and kinship. Everyone who stands with us at the Liturgy and sings “Our Father” is our brother or sister. Because we have a common Father. This relationship is higher than blood. African, American, Chechen, Jewish – our brothers, if they believe in Christ, as we do. And this suggests to each other the same attitude as children from an African tribe.

Question for reflection and discussion

What follows from the fact that everyone standing next to us in the Liturgy is our brother?

Parallel places

Read the following passages, answer the questions and write your answers.

Gospel of Matthew, chapter 23

8 And you are not called teachers, for one is your Teacher — Christ, yet you are brothers;
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, who is in heaven;
10 And do not be called mentors, for one is your Mentor – Christ.
11 The greatest among you shall be your servant:
12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and who humiliates himself will be exalted.
(Mat.23: 8-12)

Questions to the first passage

Why does Christ tell the disciples not to be called teachers and mentors and not call themselves Father to anyone on earth?
Why immediately after this does He say that the greater must be the servant?
Where do you see the main idea of ​​this passage?

Mark's Gospel, Chapter 3

31 And his mother and his brothers came, and, standing (outside) at home, they sent to him to call him.
32 And the people was sitting about him. And they said to him: Behold, thy mother and thy brethren and thy sisters, (outside) the house, ask thee.
33 And he answered them: Who is my mother and my brothers?
34 And looking at those who sat around him, he says: Behold my mother and my brothers;
35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Questions to the second passage

Why does Christ respond to the people in this way, and does not go hastily to His Mother and brothers?
What do you think and feel when you read what Christ, who fulfills the will of God, calls brother, sister, and mother?

Epistle of James, chapter 2

14 What is the use, my brethren, if someone says that he has faith, but does not have works? can this faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and does not have daily food,
16 And one of you will say to them: “Go in peace, bask and eat,” but they will not give them what the body needs: what is the use?
1 st John, chapter 3

9 Anyone who is born of God does not sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
10 The children of God and the children of the devil are thus recognized: everyone who does not do righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.
11 For this is the gospel which you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,
12 not like Cain, (who) was from the evil one and killed his brother. And why did you kill him? Because his deeds were evil, but his brother’s works were righteous.
13 Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.
14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren; He who does not love is in death.
15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has everlasting life, abiding in him.
16 We knew love in that he laid down his life for us: and we must put our souls for brothers.
17 And whoever has wealth in the world, but seeing his brother in need, closes his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
18 My children! let us not love by word or language, but by deed and truth.
Questions to excerpts from the epistles of the apostles James and John

With all your heart, do you believe that Christ laid His soul for you for your good?
How should we treat each other in order not only to be called brothers and sisters, but also to be them?

Read one or more interpretations:

Cyprian of Carthage
St. John Chrysostom
Martyr Metropolitan Vladimir (Epiphany)
Next stage

Interpretation of Cyprian of Carthage

The teacher of peace and the Unity Instructor, first of all, did not want a prayer to be performed apart and privately, so that the prayer would pray only for himself. In fact, we do not say: “My Father, who are you who are in heaven, give my bread for the day”; each of us does not ask for leaving only his duty, does not pray for himself alone, in order not to be tempted himself and get rid of the evil one. We have a national and common prayer, and when we pray, we do not pray for just one person, but for the whole people, because we, the whole people, are one. God, the Mentor of peace and harmony, who taught unity, wanted one to pray for all just as He alone carried us all. This law of prayer was observed by three youths thrown into the fiery furnace: they agreed in prayer and were unanimous in the spirit of consent. This certifies the Divine Scripture, which, by showing how they prayed, gives us an example to follow, so that we can become like them. It has been said: “Then these tia, as one mouth, will sing and bless God” (Dan. 3, 51). They spoke as if by mouth alone, although it was not Christ who taught them to pray like that. And that is why their speech – to the worshipers – was convincing and valid: a peaceful, simple and spiritual prayer was pleasing to the Lord. After the ascension of the Lord, we find the apostles with the disciples who prayed in the same way. “These things,” it was said, “tolerantly unanimously in prayer and prayer, with the wives and Mary the Matter of Jesus and with His brotherhood” (Acts 1.1-14). They were in prayer, unanimously, showing both the urgency of their prayer and mutual agreement, because God, “bringing the like-minded into the house” (Ps.67,7), accepts His only ones who have unanimous prayer into the divine and eternal home. Oh, what, beloved brothers, are the secrets of the Lord's prayer! How many things and how great are concluded in a brief prayer, but with abundant spiritual power!

… We say together: "Our Father", i.e. Believers, those who, being sanctified and restored by the grace of spiritual birth, became the sons of God.

St. John Chrysostom
Martyr Metropolitan Vladimir (Epiphany)
Next stage

St. John Chrysostom

He teaches us to pray for all the brothers. He does not say: My Father, who you are in heaven, but “Our Father,” and thus commands the offering of prayers for the entire human race, and never have in mind your own benefits, but always strive for the benefits of your neighbor. And in this way destroys enmity, and pride puts down, and envy destroys, and introduces love – the mother of all good; destroys the inequality of human affairs and shows complete equality between the king and the poor, because in the affairs of the highest and most necessary we all have equal participation. Indeed, what is the harm of low kinship, when we are all connected by heavenly kinship, and nobody has anything more than the other: neither the richer poorer, nor the lord of the slave, nor the commander of the more subordinate, nor the king of the warrior, nor the philosopher more wise more ignorant? God, who honored everyone to call Himself the Father the same, through this all bestowed one nobility.

Cyprian of Carthage
St. John Chrysostom
Martyr Metropolitan Vladimir (Epiphany)
Next stage

Martyr Metropolitan Vladimir (Epiphany)

If the Lord by the word of the Father, which He puts in the mouth of His disciples, puts them in true relationship with God, pointing out their children's rights and children's responsibilities, then our word added by Him reminds us of our attitude to people about our mutual fraternal rights and obligations.
You are not the only one who needs His fatherly love and you have the right to call Him your Father. There is a whole huge family of children of God. Millions of people call Him together with you the Father, together with you they pray to Him and together with you they need His paternal charity, His daily guidance and care. They are not strangers to you. They are close to you, they are your brothers. What right do you have to forget them in your prayer? High happy thought! Not only here, not only in our numerous meeting, but also in a solitary room and everywhere, where only I bow my knees before Him, millions of people pray with me, who, like me, are called to be children of God and, like me, they bow their knees before Jesus, and in His name call God their Father. And these common prayers and chants of ours are carried to sorrow, to Heaven, to the throne of Glory of the Most High and merge there with the praise song of those gods who, in their highest choir, more honorably praise Him than all our mouths on earth here on earth.
With such a wide heart, a Christian prays; he prays with all and for all, and for all those who still do not recognize Him as their God and their Father, but need, however, Him as much as we, who are called to know, like us. Him as His Father and worship Him as His God.

Answer the question:

What important thoughts did you draw from the patristic interpretations?

Write down the answers to your personal questions:
When you pray in the service or at home you read the prayer “Our Father” – do you only pray in your feelings only for yourself and from your own person, or from all Christians?
Do you think of your acquaintances Orthodox Christians, including those who are close to you in spirit, as your brothers and sisters? Why?

Sum up

What turned out to be the most important for you when reading the Scriptures, answering questions, reading interpretations?

Record your answer.


During the week before you say the prayer “Our Father”, remember your Orthodox Christian acquaintances and, as it were, list them in your heart: “Our Father, (my, Vasya, Petit, Masha, Natasha), is in heaven, hallowed Your name…"

The material was prepared by Tatyana Zaitseva, editor of the Gospel Groups section.
[email protected]

Previous release: what does “Father” mean?
Next issue: Existing in Heaven

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