When you pray, do not use a lot of words, as the pagans do, for they believe that the more they say, the more chance they have of being heard. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need, even before you ask him.
This, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven,
holy be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we forgive those who are in debt to us.
Do not bring us to the test,
but deliver us from the evil one.
If you forgive others their wrongdoings, your Father in heaven will also forgive yours. If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive you.
Jesus is aware of the reality of human needs, but forbids making them the main concern and not to become their slave. The “Our Father” sets the tone about what belongs to God and what pertains to man. Primarily, God’s name is to be hallowed, that God demonstrates his mysterium tremendum et fascinans, his glory and power. His glory is revealed when man’s needs are fulfilled, such as the bodily sustenance, acts of forgiveness and deliverance from all forms of evil.
There’s always a tension between the divine and human in pastoral ministry. Some pastors are inclined to stress the divine over what is human, and vice versa. A missionary was requested by his parishioners to pray for rain to alleviate the drought that affects their crops. The priest happily obliged to ask God. The following Sunday, he was furious. He told the congregation that he petitioned God for rain. To his dismay, they did not bring any umbrellas. Faith in God demands human cooperation. God helps those who help themselves. Spirituality is based on the reciprocity principle (do ut des, I give that you may give). Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus (a sleeping dragon is never to be tickled).
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