Monday, February 04, 2008

Augustine-On Prayer

A famous, pious, wealthy and noble lady named Proba once asked Augustine's advice on prayer. She was bothered by this comment from Paul in Romans, "Rom 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

She was very concerned about praying the wrong things because 'we know not what we should pray for as we ought. '

Augustine's advice to her may surprise you. He tells her to pray "for a happy life." Of course, he then gives an extended discourse on what really makes a life happy. He says, that "He, therefore, is truly happy who has all that he wishes to have, and wishes to have nothing which he ought not to wish."

We use the Lord's Prayer in our service and I am currently preaching my way through it. A couple of Augustine comments on the Lord's Prayer are particularly apt.

"--if we pray rightly, and as becomes our wants, we say nothing but what is already contained in the Lord's Prayer."

"And if you go over all the words of holy prayers (from Scripture), you will, I believe, find nothing which cannot be comprised and summed up in the petitions of the Lord's Prayer. Wherefore, in praying, we are free to use different words to any extent, but we must ask the same things; in this we have no choice." (emphasis mine)

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