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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Concerning our Lord's Praying.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXIV.—Concerning our Lord’s Praying.

Prayer is an uprising of the mind to God or a petitioning of God for what is fitting. How then did it happen that our Lord offered up prayer in the case of Lazarus, and at the hour of His passion? For His holy mind was in no need either of any uprising towards God, since it had been once and for all united in subsistence with the God Word, or of any petitioning of God. For Christ is one. But it was because He appropriated to Himself our personality and took our impress on Himself, and became an ensample for us, and taught us to ask of God and strain towards Him, and guided us through His own holy mind in the way that leads up to God. For just as He 2219 endured the passion, achieving for our sakes a triumph over it, so also He offered up prayer, guiding us, as I said, in the way that leads up to God, and “fulfilling all righteousness 2220 ” on our behalf, as He said to John, and reconciling His Father to us, and honouring Him as the beginning and cause, and proving that He is no enemy of God. For when He said in connection with Lazarus, Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. And I know that Thou hearest Me always, but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me 2221 , is it not most manifest to all that He said this in honour of His Father as the cause even of Himself, and to shew that He was no enemy of God 2222 ?

Again, when he said, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: yet, not as I will p. 71b but as Thou wilt 2223 , is it not clear to all 2224 that He said this as a lesson to us to ask help in our trials only from God, and to prefer God’s will to our own, and as a proof that He did actually appropriate to Himself the attributes of our nature, and that He did in truth possess two wills, natural, indeed, and corresponding with His natures but yet in no wise opposed to one another? “Father” implies that He is of the same essence, but “if it be possible” does not mean that He was in ignorance (for what is impossible to God?), but serves to teach us to prefer God’s will to our own. For that alone is impossible which is against God’s will and permission 2225 . “But not as I will but as Thou wilt,” for inasmuch as He is God, He is identical with the Father, while inasmuch as He is man, He manifests the natural will of mankind. For it is this that naturally seeks escape from death.

Further, these words, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me 2226 ? He said as making our personality His own 2227 . For neither would God be regarded with us as His Father, unless one were to discriminate with subtle imaginings of the mind between that which is seen and that which is thought, nor was He ever forsaken by His divinity: nay, it was we who were forsaken and disregarded. So that it was as appropriating our personality that He offered these prayers 2228 .



St. Matt., Greg. Naz., Orat. 36.


St. Matt. iii. 15.


St. John xi. 42.


Greg. Naz., Orat. 42; Chyrs., Hom. 63 in Joan.


St. Matt. xxvi. 39.


Chyrs. in Cat. in St. Matt. xxvi.


Greg., Orat. 36.


St. Matt. xxvii. 46.


Greg. Naz., Orat. 36; Cyril, De recta fide; Athanas., Contr. Arian., bk. iv.


Greg. Nyss., Orat. 38.

Next: Concerning the Appropriation.

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