January 19, 2006

An Easier Prayer to Pray   (except it's not either-or but and-both)

I'll never forget when a family member (not my wife) told me that she never prays that God's will be done but that her own might be done. I asked how she could still pray the The Lord's Prayer (i.e. 'thy will be done'). Maybe she just sort of glosses over that clause like the way I did with a phrase in the hymn "Whatsoever You Do" when I was an easily embarrassed kid, the part where it says "when I was naked you gave me your coat". (Sang as "when I was [cough, cough] you gave me your coat.")

Perhaps she was just more honest than most. It's easier praying that we not be led to trial (that closely conforms to my will at least). But it's a legimate request, imprimatured on the best authority: Jesus himself requested we pray thus in the Our Father and in Luke 22:40:
Then going out he went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. When he arrived at the place he said to them, "Pray that you may not undergo the test."
Early Church Fathers weighed in on this verse, as recorded in the Catena Aurea:
Bede writes: It is indeed impossible for the soul of man not to be tempted. Therefore he says not, "Pray that ye be not tempted," but, "Pray that ye enter not into temptation," that is, that the temptation do not at last overcome you.
Theophylact: That is, that they should not be overcome by temptation, for not to be led into temptation is not to be overwhelmed by it. Or He simply bids us pray that our life may be quiet, and we be not cast into trouble of any kind. For it is of the devil and presumptuous, for a man to throw himself into temptation. Therefore James said not, "Cast yourself into temptation," but, "When ye have trials, count it all joy', making a voluntary act out of an involuntary.

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