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Matthew

6:5-21

 

"When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 

 

"And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this: 

 

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread,  and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

 

"And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

 

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." 
(ESV)

 

Nothing Is Mine; All Is Ours 

St. Philip, Deacon

11 October 2013

Just as the means of grace are the possession of the whole church, not any one person or subdivision of the church, so prayer is also a common possession of all the faithful. Sometimes, the people misguidedly expect the pastors to do all the praying for them. No, God has called on us all to pray, because it is the common possession of the whole church. This is why prayer is an "us" thing. We cannot really go it alone.

 

Oh, yes, I can pray by myself in secret to my Father who hears my secret prayer (Mt 6:6), but even then I am never alone. My Father is there with me, the holy angels surround me, and the prayer is joined with the unending cry of the holy saints who are continuously praying to the Lord (Rev 8:4). So prayer is always a corporate reality. This is why we pray, "Our Father, who art in heaven...." We never pray "My Father, who art in heaven...." Prayer belongs to us all and we offer an "Amen" that is the church's assent to and sharing of our petitions to our Father. When our pastors intone the prayer of the church it is our prayer, because there is no praying alone. It is always the possession of the whole church. This is why the great "Amen" comes forth not just from me, but even from the whole church universal, both living and dead. To pray only for ourselves forgets who we are in Christ.

 

I have prayed corporately so long and continually, that I find myself praying in the plural even when I am alone. Some years ago, when I thought about it, I chided myself and sought to express my prayers in the first person singular. I finally gave up this project. I have ceased to think of prayer in the unity of the whole church as a negative. I prefer to think of my prayer as the prayer of the whole company of saints. It is our prayer because it belongs to our household. Whenever I am in my family residence, I always speak of it as our home. Even to my children, who do not own it and who, and in the case of my oldest daughter, never lived in it, yet to them it is "our home." So it is for the church. The church is the kingdom purchased by Christ and has been signed over to us by the blood of the Son of God, we can always speak to His Father as our Father. The community consists of Christ and all the holy saints; both living and dead, and which we confess in the holy creed. This is the community with which we cry out to our heavenly Father. We belong to them and they to us; through our adoption into Christ. Nothing is mine. All is ours.

 

Cyprian of Carthage

 

"The Teacher of peace and the Master of unity would not have prayer to be made singly and individually, as for one who prays for himself alone. We do not say 'My Father, who 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 anyone request for himself alone that he may not be led into temptation, and delivered from evil. Our prayer is public and common. 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 in this way pray for all, even as Christ 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. This the faith of the sacred Scripture assures us, and in telling us how these prayed, gives an example which we ought to follow in our prayers, in order that we may be such as they were: 'Then the three, as out of one mouth, praised, glorified, and blessed God in the furnace' (Song of the Three Children). They spoke as from one mouth, although Christ had not yet taught them how to pray. Therefore, as they prayed, their speech was availing and effectual, because a peaceful, sincere, and spiritual prayer deserved well of the Lord. We also find that the apostles prayed with the disciples after the Lord's ascension. Scripture says, 'All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers' (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 causes to dwell in a house those who are of one mind (1Co 1:10), only admits into the divine and eternal home those among whom prayer is unanimous." 


Cyprian of Carthage, Treatise on The Lord's Prayer, 8 
 
Prayer

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Philip the Deacon, whom you called to preach the gospel. In this and every land raise up heralds and evangelists of your kingdom, that your church may make known the immeasurable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

For Marvin Kluttz, that the Lord watch over Him and send His holy angels as he falls asleep in the arms of Jesus

 

For those who serve the dying, that they might be upheld and strengthened in this labor

 

For all those who grieve the loss of loved ones, that they might be comforted by the confession of the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come
Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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