Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Biblical Prayer Themes, Part I

... many people think of prayer mainly as asking for help in our sundry problems and needs. Fewer still think of it as being in love with God and expressing that love in many diverse ways, often in touching and tender terms. But such is the scriptural reality. In order to handle clearly this extraordinary abundance of interpersonal beauty, I think it best to sample these biblical prayer themes under several headings. Your own use of the Bible and participation in the eucharistic liturgy will furnish you with many more examples of these themes.

1. Petitionary prayer. We begin with a type of prayer that is familiar to everyone -- even to the former atheist in the foxhole. We are to ask and it will be given to us, seek and we shall find, knock and the door will be opened (Mt 7;7-8). We are to call on this God who works wonders for those he loves (see Ps 4:3). Just as infants turn with complete trust to their parents for all of their needs, so we also cast our cares on the Lord, because he cares for us tenderly beyond our imagining (1 Pet 5:7).

2. Adoration, praise, blessing. Filled with joy, we worship our Origin and our final Destiny, purest goodness and beauty (Ps 16:5-11). We join with "everything that lives and breathes" in a hymn of praise (Ps 150:6; 96:1-2, 98:4-8). We bless and praise this God, not simply once in a while, but at all times (Ps 34:1). We glorify him as the worker of marvels on our behalf (Ps 31:21), as we celebrate his lasting love in outpourings of tribute and thanksgiving (Ps 136:1-26). All this occurs in an atmosphere of blessing and rejoicing in the tender love of the Creator toward everything he has made (cf. Ps 146:1-2; 150:1-6)

3. Thanksgiving. Closely akin to adoration and praise, and yet with an added dimension, is heartfelt thanksgiving. Repeatedly the psalmist and the Church hearken to our privilege and duty of expressing gratitude to the Father for every good and perfect gift that descends from him (Jas 1:17). All of us are to declare to this God an endless proclamation of thanksgiving (cf. Ps 28;7; Col 3:15).
Prayer Primer, Thomas Dubay, S.M.

[to be continued...]

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