Drama of the Divine Liturgy (Lord's Prayer)

After the consecration, the congregation as a whole joins together in saying, chanting, or singing the Lord's Prayer. This is a prayer of commitment and dedication to God as the ruler of the Divine Kingdom; it is a declaration of allegiance and a statement of commitment to and reliance upon His provision of the grace that we need to live day by day. By praying the Our Father at this point, we are recognizing that lines such as "give us this day our daily bread" are more than just statements of dependence upon God for our physical nourishment through physical food, but also for the bread, the body of Christ, that we receive in the Eucharist for spiritual nourishment. 

What we come to realize about the Lord's Prayer is that the promises and commitments made in the prayer are realized and brought to fruition through what we are participating in with the Eucharist.

"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” We have lifted up our hearts unto the Lord to gather around the heavenly altar. In a mystical sense, we are where God is when we are participating in the Holy Eucharist, something which is ratified by our joining with the heavenly choir to hallow the name of the Triune God as we sing, "Holy, Holy, Holy."

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We have not only lifted up our hearts to heaven but we are simultaneously experiencing heaven descending to earth. We are at the heavenly altar while Christ's real presence is upon the earthly altar. What we do on earth mimics what was and is continually done at the heavenly altar, as described by the author of Hebrews as a shadow of the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 8:5).

"Give us this day our daily bread.” As Christ declared, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (John 6:53). We are dependent upon the perpetual provision of grace from God to be sustained in our lives. At no point did God desire nor institute an arrangement whereby we would depend upon Him once and then be self-sufficient in perpetuity. Just like Adam and Eve needed to continually eat of the Tree of Life to be continuously sustained in Eden, so too do we continually partake of the body and blood of the crucified and risen lord to be continuously sustained.

"And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We come to the eucharist to be healed spiritually. We have sought the forgiveness of God and received absolution. In so doing we must also confirm that we are in a right relationship with those around us by forgiving any offenses we perceive to have been committed against us. 

"And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” We do not simply desire the grace we have receive in the Eucharist to sustain us for the moment, but for it to give us power and motivation and to enable us to live according to the standards of God's divine kingdom. We have offered and given ourselves, our souls, and bodies, to be a reasonable sacrifice; having committed ourselves to God almighty, we turn to Him for the grace and power to make good on that commitment.

"For thine is the Kingdom, and the power and glory, forever and ever, Amen.” We conclude the Lord's prayer with a declaration of God's sovereignty, power, and glory. The reason we participate in this sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is because we are citizens of God's Kingdom and we desire both to be ministered to by His power and to proclaim His majesty and glory to all creation. We are not simply receiving but are also giving back to Him the praise and glory he deserves.

In many ways, the Lord’s Prayer is something of a summary of the Eucharist liturgy itself, for through it we enter the heavenly throne (entrance rite), petition God to have His will accomplished amongst us (collect), seek God’s provision in turning the mundane into the extraordinary (offering and preparation of the altar, also the consecration), seek forgiveness (confession and absolution), entreat God to help us through our weaknesses (prayers for the whole state of Christ’s church), and give Him praise and glory for what He has done (sanctus and the great doxology at the end of the consecration). Through the liturgy, therefore, we are living out and putting to practice the words of this prayer that Jesus gave to His disciples.

 

(as published in St. Luke's Sunday bulletin, 8/19/18)