St Cyprian of Carthage: Do You Pray as He Taught?

Feast of St Nahum the Prophet

Cyprian_Square_3.jpegTHE INSTRUCTIONS of the Gospel, dearest brothers, are nothing other than divine commands, foundations on which hope is built, buttresses by which faith is strengthened, food by which the heart is fed, directions by which our journey is guided, bulwarks by which salvation is attained. While they instruct the minds of those who are learning the faith on earth they are leading us to the heavenly Kingdoms. There are many things that God spoke through the prophets, His servants, which He wants us to hear. But how much more would He have us hear those which the Son spoke, to which the Word of God, who was in the prophets, bears witness through His own voice; now not simply ordering that the way of His coming be made ready, but coming Himself, showing us and opening to us the way, so that we who previously were wandering, blind, and reckless in the shadow of death, should be illuminated by the light of grace on the journey of life and keep to the way with the Lord as our leader and guide.

Among His other saving guidance and divine instructions by which He counseled His people in the way of salvation, He Himself gave the form by which to pray, and Himself guided and directed the purpose of our prayer. He who brought us to life taught us to pray, by the kindness out of which He condescended to give and grant other things beside. And what we speak with the Father in the prayer and supplication which the Son taught, we may the more readily be heard. He had already said that the hour would come when true worshippers would worship the Father in spirit and in truth (cf. Jn. 4.23), and He fulfilled what He had previously promised so that we who receive spirit and truth through His sanctification may truly and spiritually worship through what He has handed on to us.

Indeed, what prayer could be spiritual other than that which Christ, by whom the Holy Spirit is sent to us, has given us? What prayer could be truer in the presence of the Father than that which was conveyed by the Son, who is truth, from His own mouth? That we should pray in a manner distinct from that He taught is not ignorance alone, but is culpable, as He Himself affirmed when He said: “You reject the commandment of God, in order to set up your own tradition” (Mk. 7.8).

—St Cyprian, On the Lord’s Prayer

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