By Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite
The Lord’s Prayer, my brothers, according to St. Maximos, includes seven lofty subjects: theology, sonship, equality with the angels, the enjoyment of eternal life, the restoration of human nature, the destruction of the law of sin, and the abolition of the tyranny of the devil. The beginning of the “Our Father” includes the subjects of theology and sonship, for it simultaneously teaches us that God is by nature the Father of the Son and the Emitter [Proboleus] of the Holy Spirit, and that, according to creation and grace, He is our Father, and we His sons. The words, “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” include the subject of equality with the angels, by which words we ask to be united with the angels, and, just as the will of God in heaven is done by the angels in heaven, so also must His will be done by us who are on the earth. The phrase, “Give us this day our [daily] bread,” includes the subject of the enjoyment of eternal life. The restoration and union of human nature is attested to by the words, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” for, when we forgive our enemies, we are united and no longer divided because of a difference of opinion and will. The distancing of sin far from us is disclosed by the words, “And lead us not into temptation,” and by saying this we ask that we not enter into temptation proceeding from the law of sin. And the phrase, “But deliver us from the evil one,” represents the destruction of the devil’s tyranny.
This teaching of our Lord is called a prayer because it encompasses all that man should ask from God, and all that is fitting for God to give to man. The prayer is divided into three parts: 1) doxology and praise of God; 2) thanksgiving to God for His past, present, and future blessings; and 3) supplication for the forgiveness of our sins and for the sins of our brethren, and various other supplications. The Lord’s Prayer contains seven subjects, as we previously said, and is therefore also divided into seven parts. But why seven? This is because man has permission to ask and receive from God during this present, seventh, age; while in the eighth age, that is, the future age, we will not be able to do this, for then it will no longer be time for work, but for the recompense for our actions.