Petition and Promise: St. Maximos’ Interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer (Part II)

In these lines (pp. 288-291) St. Maximos elucidates the nature of our petitions to God in the Lord’s prayer and our relationship to Him and His creation.

What is it that we are asking of God and how? 

Before we even begin our petitions, we are introduced to the concepts and trinitarian nature of theology: “Our Father who art in heaven.” 

It is significant that we are also immediately placed in a direct line of communication with God as his children. This means that we do not simply ask for, and receive, lists of truths and instructions from a distance, in a top down relationship. Instead, we enter into a dialogue with God as his sons and daughters.

The Lord’s prayer is a dynamic movement from earth to heaven, from solitary existence to unity with others, from passions to purification and restoration of our nature. In the process of communication with our Father, we make requests, but we also open ourselves to growing and becoming transformed, ourselves.

By asking for forgiveness, and promising our forgiveness of others, we partake of God’s nature, experiencing unity between heaven and earth, harmony, and peace. The prayer:

…asks that those in heaven and those on earth may be united in one will.

…lays down that men should be reconciled with one another and unites our nature with itself when we forgive and are forgiven, for then it is not split asunder by differences of will and purpose.

The words of this prayer, we are told, are “precepts of life” and, hence require being applied through actions.

In our petitions, we ask for our daily bread and deliverance from temptation. We also vow to accept God’s will and forgive others. We are, thus, in a synergistic relationship with the Lord in which there is give and take—requests and obligations.

Prayer is “a promise of what men who worship God sincerely resolve to offer Him.”

The more we fulfill our vows to the Lord, the deeper our prayer is a vow, that is:

…a contest of virtue that God welcomes most readily whenever it is offered to Him; and prayer is the prize of virtue that God gives joyfully when the contest is won.

The Lord’s prayer reveals to us mystically what it is to be human in Christ and where we fit in relationship to God, fellow men and the rest of the created universe.

Through these words He has revealed the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge that as pure form exist in Him; and in all who offer this prayer He kindles the desire to enjoy such treasures…”

It is through action, however, that we participate in God—allowing these revelations to change our lives and bring us closer to God:

…we strive to stamp our Creator’s qualities in our lives, sanctifying His name on earth……showing ourselves to be his children through our actions…

Through this commitment to the path of theosis that has been laid out for us, we “become a temple of God.”

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