Friday, January 06, 2006

"You should pray like this:

Our Father in heaven,
help us to honor your name.
Come and set up your kingdom,
so that everyone on earth will obey you,
as you are obeyed in heaven.
Give us our food for today.
Forgive us for doing wrong,
as we forgive others.
Keep us from being tempted
and protect us from evil.
(Pericope 073: Jesus teaches about prayer; Matt.6.9-13, CEV)

I take it as given that Jesus didn't provide this model prayer just for rote recitation Sunday mornings in church. Though conventionally known as the Lord's Prayer, it is really the Disciple's Prayer (which i'll call Our Prayer): a model from our Lord of how we should pray as his disciples. As a model, Our Prayer has implications both for how we think (cognitive aspects) and how we act (behavior). As disciples, our prayers are both requests of our Lord, but also expressions of what we believe and want to be true. We have so institutionalized Our Prayer that we easily miss what praying like this means for us.

The cognitive side of being a disciple includes at least two things: our view of reality and the world around us (our worldview), and our values. (By the way, if you've never read James Sire's Universe Next Door, go order it now and read it: i'm not kidding, it's that important!) Our values overlap with our worldview to some extent, but also include what we consider important. Another cognitive dimension of Our Prayer is adjusting our priorities: in our increasingly ADD, entertainment-addicted, data-smogged, multi-tasking society, what we pay attention to can be more important than what we say we believe (but ignore in practice).

The behavioral side includes both our attitudes and our (external) actions. Just because attitudes are internal doesn't mean they're not behavior: how we think about something is still a choice.

(Read the rest)


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