Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Most Dangerous Prayer: Part 6

In this final reflection for the Our Father, we look at the final petition of the prayer.  Remember, that in this prayer we are showing a desire for a complete relationship with God.  We are committing ourselves to take on His attributes and make known His Kingdom on earth.  We surrender our wills to Him.  This is all important as we remember the last petition, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Because we pray as our Lord taught us does not mean the devil will not tempt us.  In fact, the more we desire to grow closer to God, the more the devil attacks.  The more we want a relationship with God, the more the devil will tempt us to a disordered relationship with something other than God.  Our free will does not dissipate upon conversion.  No, conversion, being on ongoing process, grows stronger each time challenged.  St John Chrysostom writes of this petition, " Jesus here calls the devil the 'wicked one', commanding us us to wage against him a war that knows no truce."  (Homilies on the Gospel of Mathew 19.6)  St Cyprian of Carthage saw this petition as a recapitulation of the entire prayer.

We are asking God to keep us on the straight and narrow.  We are recognizing that to live the life we have pledged ourselves to in being His sons and daughters, that His grace and protection are necessary for this to happen.  This said, we must be authentic in praying such a phrase.  We cannot adhere to our favorite sins and yet still ask God to save us.  In this phrase we choose a side and a protector.  We look to God and not the powers of this world to sustain us and protect us.  However, if we choose sin, God will allow us to wander, to be lead away from Him.  He will not deliver us from evil if we are running toward evil with arms outstretched.  To pray this phrase is to say that I will keep my joy in God.  If we are unwilling to let go of our sin, then we lie when we pray this.

This doesn't mean we won't struggle and struggle mightily.  The devil knows our weaknesses and will hammer on them.  God gives us the gift of virtue to do ongoing battle with sin and temptation.  He will give us every grace and tool to combat sin, he will give the knowledge on how to use these tools, but He will make us use them.  In asking to deliver us, we are committing to using these tools.  In praying this prayer, we are saying we walk with our eyes wide open.  We say that we indeed are waging a war with the devil that knows no truce.

The Our Father is a most dangerous prayer for those who say it and don't mean it.  It would be as dangerous as uttering the words of the marriage vows and not meaning them.  To lie about the relationship we want to have with God is eternally deadly.  But would Jesus want us to drink a poison every time we pray as He instructs?  Absolutely not!  This prayer is to be a constant reflection in our lives of how we live as His followers.  Prayed in truth, this prayer is of great comfort...the words of a trusting child before father who loves them.  Let this prayer be the standard by which we live our lives day in and day out.  Let this prayer be an ongoing pledge to strive to be a faithful son or daughter of God.  Do not take these words blithely, rattling them off without thought.  Be aware of what we ask for and live accordingly. 

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