In The Lord’s Prayer, St Gregory of Nyssa
explains the prayer Jesus taught:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
The prayer outlines what sort of men we should be. It is not about God, but about us: After each of the first lines the words “in us” is understood: Hallowed be Thy name in us, Thy kingdom come in us, Thy will be done in us. We do this by seeking virtue instead of wealth, by seeking to master ourselves instead of others.
We are to ask for our daily bread. Bread, not cake. And not silver plates to eat it on. We are to keep our needs and wants simple and few and trust in God to take care of the rest. To do otherwise is to be drawn away from God to serve not God but Money, to become a slave to our possessions.
The world trusts in money, we are to trust in God. He will not give us what we want, but He will give us what we need. Seek ye first the kingdom of God.
This day: just today, not for tomorrow or thirty years from now when we stop working. This world and our lives here will pass away. What really matters, what we must do is to keep our mind and our heart on heaven, our true country, the thing that will last forever.
We are in a war of the flesh against the spirit. We live in a body and so we have needs. God knows that. But we also have a fallen nature: our passions make us want more than we need. They are not the road to our higher nature – quite the contrary. Money and sex rule us because we are ruled by our passions, not because we have to be or need to be.
God will give us the grace to live another way. That is why we pray, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
If we live as if God did not matter, then God will not hear our prayers – only the Devil will. So we must obey God, seek virtue and show mercy to others. God will be as merciful to us as we are to others. He will take us as seriously as we take Him.
Why pray the very same words day after day? Because by saying the same words over and over again, they sink into our heart and teach us the things we need to know. They help to cure our sick souls.