On Monday, July 19, the Armenian Church commemorates St. Cyprian (Gibrianos), bishop of Carthage, and 45 martyrs. Cyprian was an important early Christian writer and a major theologian of the early African church. Many of his works in Latin have survived. One of his best-known works is “On the Unity of the Church.” Many of his epistles, treatises, and pastoral letters are extant. He urged Christians to recite the Lord’s Prayer every day, meditating on each phrase. He wrote a commentary on the Lord’s Prayer showing how it is the model for prayer.
Born in 200, he was the son of wealthy parents and became a teacher of rhetoric and literature. He converted to Christianity in his middle years and ordained a priest. He elected to serve as bishop of Carthage. He was subject to persecution after his conversion and in the year 258 was beheaded along with forty-five martyrs.
When we pray, we should ensure that we understand the words we use. We should be humble, aware of our own weaknesses, and be eager to receive God’s grace. Our bodily posture and our tone of voice should reflect the fact that through prayer we enter God’s presence. To speak too loudly to God would be impudent; thus a quiet and modest manner is appropriate. The Lord has instructed us that we should usually pray in private, even in our own bedrooms. This reminds us that God is everywhere, that he hears and sees everything, and that he penetrates the deepest secrets of our hearts.
(From commentary “On the Lord’s Prayer,” by Cyprian of Carthage)