Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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A model of prayer and life

There are three versions of the “Lord’s Prayer” in the New Testament and early Christian tradition. The shortest version comes from Luke’s gospel. An inclusive translation reads: “Abba God, hallowed be your Name! May your reign come. Give us today Tomorrow’s bread. Forgive us our sins, for we too forgive everyone who sins against us; and don’t let us be subjected to the Test.”

The structure of the prayer (in all three versions) looks something like this: Orient yourselves to God. Affirm God’s goodness and otherness. Express openness and desire for God’s future. Petition for basic, collective needs – ask to receive and commit to give. Acknowledge human frailty and finitude.

Orient, affirm, express, petition, acknowledge … with words (spoken, written, sung), by way of painting, dancing, ritual (devotional, liturgical), work, play, silence …

Jesus offers a model of prayer based on his own experience of life as dialogue, as call to meaning and to love.

In response to the latest State of the Environment report written by 30 independent scientists from around Australia – in face of dual biodiversity and climate crises – nothing short of radical prayer is called for.

Something like this: Re-orient yourselves to God (source of life, beauty and diversity). Re-affirm God’s goodness and otherness (protection and restoration of habitats – numinous matter).

Express openness and desire for God’s future (God after empire, economies of extraction and consumption, environmental mismanagement). Petition for basic, collective needs (First Nations justice, climate justice; freedom for life together).

Ask to receive and renew commitments to clean air, clean water, clean energy – no new coal or gas mines. Acknowledge human frailty and finitude (save us – unwise, unkind and unimaginative – in the time of trial).

Praying with Jesus – in the Spirit of all who engage in dialogue, in the struggle for justice – we participate in the saving of the world. Perhaps that’s a little grandiose.

Praying with Jesus – in the Spirit of all who engage in dialogue, in the struggle for justice – we offer ourselves for the life of the world.

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