He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Christ is the “firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29) who, by taking flesh, makes the children of God co-heirs of the kingdom. As Jesus’ entire person and mission are oriented toward the Father, learning to pray “Our Father” and “Abba!” are essential steps toward discovering our identity as children of God.
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your Kingdom come.
Praying “Abba, Father!” to the Almighty God in the intimate manner of beloved children was unprecedented in the history of Israel (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). The distant God of Mount Sinai and the Jerusalem Temple sent his Son into the world to show us his face: “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Jesus wanted us to walk in familiarity, trust, and confidence with the Father just as he did throughout his earthy life.
Jesus, who is the Head of his Body, the Church, is completely ad Patrem (“toward the Father”). In his deepest mystery, the Father is the source of his only-begotten Son and our source.
In contemplating the Father as the “source,” “principle,” or “origin” of the Son, all concepts of time and space fall away. His being is not from another but from himself.1 The Son is eternally generated from the Father in an ineffable manner without passion or a co-principle.
Language bumps into a wall on every side as it gropes in the dark for words to describe the Father as an eternal “principle” (Latin Fathers) or “cause” (Greek Fathers) and the Son as eternally begotten or generated. All of our words derive from a world of change and becoming, yet the imperfection of mutability must be denied of God. The Father is the uncaused cause or principle without principle, and yet the Son and the Spirit are mutually eternal and immutable as God.
When we turn to God as Father, we address a divine person who is the source of all persons, being, and the cosmos. “Thy will be done” ultimately returns to the Father through Jesus Christ, a person to person union and communion.
The absolute principle of the universe is neither solitary nor impersonal. Christ’s revelation of the Father is truly unique in unveiling the personal dimension of ultimate reality.
Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”
Like children, we open our empty hands to receive our daily sustenance from God the Father. Forgiveness is constantly pouring out from the Father of mercy. We align ourselves to his merciful heart when we pray, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Walking in the grace and synergy of the Holy Spirit, may we never swerve from the path of life.
1 St. John of Damascus, The Orthodox Faith, Book I, chapter 8 and St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Prima Pars, question 33, article 1.