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St. Cyprian on The Lord’s Prayer and Prayer of the Heart

Christ Pantocrator, Ruler of All

Pray then like this: 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 also have forgiven our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil (Matt. 6:9-13).

St. Cyprian: “… what can be a more spiritual prayer than that which was given to us by Christ, by whom also the Holy Spirit was given to us? What praying to the Father can be more truthful than that which was delivered to us by the Son who is the Truth, out of His own mouth?

“Therefore, beloved brethren, let us pray as God our Teacher has taught us. It is a loving and friendly prayer to beseech God with His own word, to come up to His ears in the prayer of Christ. Let the Father acknowledge the words of His Son when we make our prayer, and let Him also who dwells within our breast Himself dwell in our voice. And since we have Jesus as an Advocate with the Father for our sins, let us, when as sinners we petition on behalf of our sins, put forward the words of our Advocate. For since He says, that ‘whatsoever we shall ask of the Father in His name, He will give us (Jn 15:16, 16:23),’ how much more effectually do we obtain what we ask in Christ’s name, if we ask for it in His own prayer.

“But when we pray, let our speech and petition be disciplined, observing quietness and modesty. Let us consider that we are standing in God’s sight. We must please the divine eyes both with the habit of body and with the measure of voice. …Moreover, in His teaching the Lord bids us to pray in secret — in hidden and remote places, in our very bedrooms (Matt. 6:6) — which is best suited to faith, that we may know that God is everywhere present, and hears and sees all, and in the abundance of His majesty penetrates even into hidden and secret places, as it is written, ‘I am a God at hand, and not a God far off. If a man shall hide himself in secret places, shall I not then see him? Do I not fill heaven and earth (Jer. 23:23, 24).’ And again: ‘The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good  (Prov. 15:3).’ And when we meet together with the brethren in one place, and celebrate divine sacrifices with God’s priest, we ought to be mindful of modesty and discipline — not to throw abroad our prayers indiscriminately, with unsubdued voices, nor to cast to God with tumultuous wordiness a petition that ought to be commended to God by modesty; for God is the hearer, not of the voice, but of the heart.

“Take as an example, Hannah (1 Sam 1:9-13)…she did not pray to God with a clamorous petition, but silently and modestly, within the very recesses of her heart. She spoke with hidden prayer, but with manifest faith. She spoke not with her voice, but with her heart, because she knew that God hears; and she effectually obtained what she sought because she asked it with belief. Divine Scripture asserts this, when it says, ‘She spoke in her heart, and her lips moved, and her voice was not heard (1 Sam 1:13);’ but God heard her. We read also in the Psalms, ‘Speak in your hearts, and in your bedsPs. 4:4).’ The Holy Spirit, moreover, suggests these same things by Jeremiah, and teaches, saying, ‘But in the heart ought God to be adored by thee (Baruch 6:6).'” (St. Cyprian (190-258 AD) Bishop of Carthage (248-258 AD) Excerpts from Treatise IV, On the Lord’s Prayer)

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