Reflections on The Lord’s Prayer

As is usual for me, I include the recitation of The Lord’s Prayer while saying grace before my midday meal. Included in the prayer process was my reflection on what I had done, as well as what more I should have done, earlier this, and for the balance of the, day.

I thus had occasion to further reflect on the injunctions of the prayer. This article will constitute some of those reflections.

My version of the prayer is the Protestant version, to wit:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on 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.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory, forever.

Though not fully the chronological process of my reflections, it might assist in separately considering each of these passages. Hence these are grouped and considered as follows:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory, forever.

These passages distinguish between the divine realm and the secular realm. Moreover they emphasize the surpassing superiority and dominance of the former over the latter, in holiness and virtue as well as in power.

While the kingdom of God is eternal and dominates all, God’s will is not yet “done on earth”; rather, what is done on earth now is corruption and constantly accelerating decay. When God’s kingdom does come, then his divine will will triumph over and terminate the decay and then abolish the corruption with which we are now afflicted.

Give us this day our daily bread,

Most of us are imbued with a belief in entitlement to a vast panoply of blessings, many, if not most, of which we do not need. But, being invested with minimal power over our conditions, we are thereby precluded from possessing the capacity to secure the benefits of all of the blessings for which we aspire. We therefore should be ever attentive to and thankful for the blessings that we do receive. For we are often too oblivious to those blessings that we regularly enjoy.

and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.

Corresponding to our self-absorption in what we do not possess is self-absorption in the perceived injuries afflicted on us by others. Rather we tend to forget or overlook those injuries our action or inaction has caused. In both cases of self-absorption we display our lack of humility. We instead must incorporate a constant awareness of our proclivity to error and selfishness. While obsessing excessively on any particular error or set of errors is destructive — by diverting our mental energy and capacities from positive action — engrafted acknowledgment of our propensity to error promotes our humility, and avoids our overconfidence, in the choices presented to us; thereby are we cautious in our consideration and selection of those choices.

and lead us not into temptation,

Scripture confirms that God does not lead us into temptation. Rather our failure to seek the strength of God to resist vice and instead pursue virtue is the cause. Succumbing to temptation can exist in many forms: it can exhibit itself in the active pursuit of vice; consist in cowering in the face of vice being perpetrated on others; and in using our time, energy, and capacities in trivial activities rather than employing them actively and industriously toward positive objectives. Regardless, we must recognize that we are but humble servants in the service of God’s mission of the realization of God’s Kingdom, recognizing God’s divine law as the inspiration and objective for all our actions.

but deliver us from evil.

While combined in the Prayer with the preceding phrase, these are two diametrically-opposite conditions. Temptation is a force we experience internally. Evil is a force that we externally encounter. Evil is not merely a concept, or an absence of righteousness, but an independent force of immense power, one that can only be subjugated by God’s surpassing power. While all are subject to being enticed by temptation, virtually all who are exposed to evil are buffeted by it, with only those most depraved being actually enticed by it. Despite its clear signs, revealing the malevolent force behind them, and the realization by most that it must be rejected and countered, only God’s strength allows effective countering.

What do these reflections teach us? Much! But perhaps the most-important lesson, at least to myself, is the implication proceeding from these reflections.

Scripture mandates our participation in social life, for the promotion of divine values by their exhibition in our own actions and the consequent encouragement of their incorporation into the actions of others. Yet our combination with society can expose us to potential contagion from corruption. In both individuals and societies at large this phenomenon has been frequently observed; while exposure to unrighteousness does not automatically cause us to adopt those precepts, our regular and repeated knowledge of them often anesthetizes us to them and provides us no excuse when we fail to resist them. There thus exists this constant tension and imminent danger.

How then to avoid, or at least minimize, the conflict within this conundrum? Perhaps the most-effective method is to minimize our exposure to the broad and encompassing programs of both large private and public associations — thereby avoiding the temptation to attempt to influence those policies — until their adverse impact on us is observed and experienced.

Once we observe and experience those adverse impacts, then we appreciate action at reformation is essential. Until then we can focus on our own efforts at the promotion and promulgation of righteousness without our time, energy, and capacities being diverted therefrom by attention instead to the action of others.

Knowledge of certain actions of others can be invaluable, when their righteous character is observed, by inspiring us to emulate them. But most actions of other do not partake of this character and thus divert us from our optimal productivity. Temptation is always present to divert us from this course, but this is when the knowledge and straighten of God is required.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Sanilac County, Michigan USA
22 July 2022

Reflections on The Lord’s Prayer | PHILOSOPHICAL VISTAS

Reflections on The Lord’s Prayer

As is usual for me, I include the recitation of The Lord’s Prayer while saying grace before my midday meal. Included in the prayer process was my reflection on what I had done, as well as what more I should have done, earlier this, and for the balance of the, day.

I thus had occasion to further reflect on the injunctions of the prayer. This article will constitute some of those reflections.

My version of the prayer is the Protestant version, to wit:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on 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.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory, forever.

Though not fully the chronological process of my reflections, it might assist in separately considering each of these passages. Hence these are grouped and considered as follows:

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory, forever.

These passages distinguish between the divine realm and the secular realm. Moreover they emphasize the surpassing superiority and dominance of the former over the latter, in holiness and virtue as well as in power.

While the kingdom of God is eternal and dominates all, God’s will is not yet “done on earth”; rather, what is done on earth now is corruption and constantly accelerating decay. When God’s kingdom does come, then his divine will will triumph over and terminate the decay and then abolish the corruption with which we are now afflicted.

Give us this day our daily bread,

Most of us are imbued with a belief in entitlement to a vast panoply of blessings, many, if not most, of which we do not need. But, being invested with minimal power over our conditions, we are thereby precluded from possessing the capacity to secure the benefits of all of the blessings for which we aspire. We therefore should be ever attentive to and thankful for the blessings that we do receive. For we are often too oblivious to those blessings that we regularly enjoy.

and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.

Corresponding to our self-absorption in what we do not possess is self-absorption in the perceived injuries afflicted on us by others. Rather we tend to forget or overlook those injuries our action or inaction has caused. In both cases of self-absorption we display our lack of humility. We instead must incorporate a constant awareness of our proclivity to error and selfishness. While obsessing excessively on any particular error or set of errors is destructive — by diverting our mental energy and capacities from positive action — engrafted acknowledgment of our propensity to error promotes our humility, and avoids our overconfidence, in the choices presented to us; thereby are we cautious in our consideration and selection of those choices.

and lead us not into temptation,

Scripture confirms that God does not lead us into temptation. Rather our failure to seek the strength of God to resist vice and instead pursue virtue is the cause. Succumbing to temptation can exist in many forms: it can exhibit itself in the active pursuit of vice; consist in cowering in the face of vice being perpetrated on others; and in using our time, energy, and capacities in trivial activities rather than employing them actively and industriously toward positive objectives. Regardless, we must recognize that we are but humble servants in the service of God’s mission of the realization of God’s Kingdom, recognizing God’s divine law as the inspiration and objective for all our actions.

but deliver us from evil.

While combined in the Prayer with the preceding phrase, these are two diametrically-opposite conditions. Temptation is a force we experience internally. Evil is a force that we externally encounter. Evil is not merely a concept, or an absence of righteousness, but an independent force of immense power, one that can only be subjugated by God’s surpassing power. While all are subject to being enticed by temptation, virtually all who are exposed to evil are buffeted by it, with only those most depraved being actually enticed by it. Despite its clear signs, revealing the malevolent force behind them, and the realization by most that it must be rejected and countered, only God’s strength allows effective countering.

What do these reflections teach us? Much! But perhaps the most-important lesson, at least to myself, is the implication proceeding from these reflections.

Scripture mandates our participation in social life, for the promotion of divine values by their exhibition in our own actions and the consequent encouragement of their incorporation into the actions of others. Yet our combination with society can expose us to potential contagion from corruption. In both individuals and societies at large this phenomenon has been frequently observed; while exposure to unrighteousness does not automatically cause us to adopt those precepts, our regular and repeated knowledge of them often anesthetizes us to them and provides us no excuse when we fail to resist them. There thus exists this constant tension and imminent danger.

How then to avoid, or at least minimize, the conflict within this conundrum? Perhaps the most-effective method is to minimize our exposure to the broad and encompassing programs of both large private and public associations — thereby avoiding the temptation to attempt to influence those policies — until their adverse impact on us is observed and experienced.

Once we observe and experience those adverse impacts, then we appreciate action at reformation is essential. Until then we can focus on our own efforts at the promotion and promulgation of righteousness without our time, energy, and capacities being diverted therefrom by attention instead to the action of others.

Knowledge of certain actions of others can be invaluable, when their righteous character is observed, by inspiring us to emulate them. But most actions of other do not partake of this character and thus divert us from our optimal productivity. Temptation is always present to divert us from this course, but this is when the knowledge and straighten of God is required.

WAYNE A. SMITH
Sanilac County, Michigan USA
22 July 2022