From a Treatise on the Lord’s Prayer by Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr
Dear friends, why does the fact that God has taught us such a prayer as this astonish us? Did he not express all of our prayers in his own words of life? Indeed this was already foretold by Isaiah. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke of the majesty and fidelity of God: The Lord will speak a final brief word of justice, a word throughout the world. Our Lord Jesus Christ came for all mankind. He gathered together male and female, the learned and the unlearned, the old and the young and taught them his saving doctrine. He did not want his disciples to be burdened by memorizing his teaching; he made a complete summary of his commands such as was necessary for a trusting faith, and could be quickly learned.
Thus he summarized his teaching on the mystery of eternal life and its meaning with an admirable, divine brevity: And eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent. Again, in quoting the first and the greatest precept of the law and the prophets, he spoke in the same way: Listen, Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord, and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is like it: You must love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depends all that is contained in the law and the prophets. On another occasion the Lord said: Always treat others as you would like them to treat you: that is the meaning of the law and the prophets.
God taught us to pray not only by his words, but also by his actions. He taught us by his own example for he often prayed on our behalf. The Scripture says: He withdrew to the wilderness and prayed. And again: He went into the hills to pray and he spent the whole night in prayer to God.
Was the sinless Lord praying for himself? No, he was praying and interceding on our behalf. He explained this to Peter: Behold Satan demanded that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. Later on he prayed to the Father for everyone: I am not praying for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their preaching, that they may be one; just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us. God loves us; for the sake of our salvation he is generous toward us. He is not satisfied with redeeming us by his blood. He also prays to the Father on our behalf. Consider the love exemplified in that prayer. The Father and Son are one; we too are to abide in that oneness.