By Roberta C. Bondi
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Additional info for A Place to Pray: Reflections on the Lord's Prayer
And I had hidden all this, as well as my own lack of generosity, from myself by telling myself how Christian I was being. " Believe me, my friend, I took David's words to heart that day. I mulled over them, I began to meditate on the difference between the great American virtue of selfsufficiency and independence, and the Christian virtue of acknowledging our dependence and receiving everything that comes to us with a grateful heart. I asked myself why I found it humiliating to be in need, when I knew perfectly well that all of us are continually in need of one another because that is the way God made us.
Prayer, I believe, insofar as it is conversation with God which is part of the sharing of a common life with God, is far less a duty than it is a gift God gives to us. As the great fourth-century teacher of prayer from the Egyptian desert, Evagrius Ponticus, says, "If you wish to pray, then it is God whom you need. "1 If it is true that prayer in general is given to us by God as a gift of love rather than as an absolute command to conform to what we are told to do, then this must be particularly true of the Lord's Prayer.
What kind of a monster do we really think God is? How could anybody in her right mind love such a raging, demanding God, or pray that this God's kingdom come and will be done? Still, it is surprising how often I hear people, and even some of my own good seminary students, speak of the will of God in this negative way. They use "God's will" to explain every awful thing that happens in life. To hear them speak, you would think that it is God who deliberately causes hurricanes, car accidents, childhood deaths, lost jobs, fires, disappointments in love, cancer, and even rape in order to punish us or teach us valuable lessons.
A Place to Pray: Reflections on the Lord's Prayer by Roberta C. Bondi