Oh God…. (3)

Follow-on to Oh God and Oh God (2)

No ontology is perfect, some are useful. This still fluid (open for improvement). Clearly needs comment/feedback/critique….

Stepping back very briefly to say the obvious, we Mormons have been taught to pray this way:

  1. Address Heavenly Father
  2. Thank Him for our blessings
  3. Ask Him for the things we need
  4. Close in the name of Christ
  5. Amen

Please consider this commandment: “…as I have prayed among you even so shall ye pray in my church…. Behold I am the light; I have set an example for you.” (3 Nephi 18:16)

We only have a few examples of the Savior praying and most look nothing like the 5 steps. This is not to say that His prayers differ because He doesn’t close in His own name. It goes far beyond that.

An Experimental Ontology for Prayer
  • Addressing the Father
  • Invoking the name of Christ
  • Praising (blessing & glorifying God)
  • Thanking (gratitude)
  • Committing (covenanting, Amen)
  • Pleading (crying, requests, asking)
  • Testifying (witnessing)
  • Reporting (status)
  • Conversing (reasoning, elaborating, explaining, chatting, less formal, perhaps even casual communication)
  • Inviting

With the exception of beginning by addressing the Father, there appears to be no order required, though it seems reasonable that one might say amen at the end of the prayer (implying that there appears to be nothing proscribing making commitments and otherwise agreeing during the course of the prayer.

It is understood that there are shortcomings here. Praising, blessing, and glorifying are not synonymous. It would be nice to find a word to represent all these that doesn’t give praise a implicit privilege over and thus limit the importance of blessing or glorifying. In the same vane, pleading is used because it implies a more heart-felt attitude than asking. Nevertheless, we wouldn’t want to imply that every request should be amped up to the max with feeling, would we? Perhaps we should.

Prayers Voiced by the Savior

Before starting, we note the likelihood that many of these prayers are incomplete. For example, it is reasonable to assume that the Savior prayed more in the Garden of Gethsemane than is recorded. It would therefore be foolish to amplify things that might be missing, such as a “thank you” in the Lord’s Prayer. Let’s focus on those things that are there.

“The Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9–13; see also Luke 11:2-4)

Our Father which art in heaven, [Addressing]
Hallowed be thy name. [Praising]
Thy kingdom come. [Testifying]
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. [Committing, Testifying]
Give us this day our daily bread. [Pleading]
And forgive us our debts, [Pleading]
as we forgive our debtors. [Committing, Testifying]
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: [Pleading]
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. [Testifying, Praising]
Amen. [Committing]

In this context, let’s explore a bit.

“Thy kingdom come”  already challenges the ontology. If one presumes that it implies an inherent responsibility to help make that happen, would we not be committing ourselves? If this means “May Thy kingdom come,” then this has a pleading flavor. There is no reason to presume the Savior isn’t doing both, and perhaps even more.

Thy will be done” is interesting in that the Savior is saying that which He is known for, following the will of the Father.

“…as we forgive our debtors” also has the implication of responsibility on our part [Committing]. Might it also be an expression of a simple gospel truth? [Testifying]

Garden Prayer (Matthew 26:39, 42, see also Mark 14:35-39; Luke 22:42)

O my Father, [Addressing]
if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: [pleading]
nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. [committing]

O my Father, [Addressing]
if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, [conversing (reasoning?)]
thy will be done. [committing]

One might contend that “as thou wilt” or “thy will be done” is the ultimate form of glorifying God.

As an aside, we would most certainly want to discard the idea that verse 44 of the same chapter implies a vain repetition. Right? It appears that repetition is okay, when not vain.

Intercessory Prayer (John 17:5–26)

O Father [Addressing],
glorify thou me with thine own self [Pleading]
with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. [Conversing, Testifying?]
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world:  [Reporting]
thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. [Testifying]
Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. [Reporting; Testifying]
For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, [Reporting]
and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. [Testifying]
I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. [Conversing]
And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. [Testifying, Conversing]
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. [Reporting; Committing]
Holy Father, [Addressing]
keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. [Pleading]
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. [Reporting]
And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. [Committing, Reporting]
I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. [Reporting, Testifying]
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. [Pleading]
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. [Testifying, Reporting]
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. [Pleading, Testifying]
As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. [Reporting]
And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. [Committing, Reporting? Conversing?]
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; [Pleading]
That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. [Testifying]
And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: [Reporting]
I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. [Reporting]
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. [Pleading, Testifying?]
O righteous Father [Addressing],
the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. [Testifying; Conversing?]
And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. [Reporting; Committing, Conversing]

Prayers in New World (3 Nephi 19:20–23)

Father, [Addressing]
I thank thee that thou hast given the Holy Ghost unto these whom I have chosen; [Thanking]
and it is because of their belief in me that I have chosen them out of the world. [Conversing, Reporting?, Testifying?]
Father, [Addressing]
I pray thee that thou wilt give the Holy Ghost unto all them that shall believe in their words. [Pleading]
Father, [Addressing]
thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them. [Conversing, Reporting]
And now Father, [Addressing] I pray unto thee for them, and also for all those who shall believe on their words, that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one. [Pleading]

Prayers in New World (3 Nephi 19:28–29)

Father, [Addressing]
I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, [Thanking, Conversing]
and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me. [Pleading, Conversing]

Father, [Addressing]
I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them. [Conversing, Pleading]

Therefore What?

The Savior has shown numerous examples where He includes:

  • Addressing the Father
  • Praising (blessing & glorifying God)
  • Thanking (gratitude)
  • Committing (covenanting, Amen)
  • Pleading (crying, requests, asking)
  • Testifying (witnessing)
  • Reporting (status)
  • Conversing (reasoning, elaborating, explaining, chatting, less formal, perhaps even casual communication)

Highlighted are those things that we might strongly consider adding to our personal and group prayers, presuming that we have a desire to follow the commandment and example given by Him.

Missing are:

  • Invoking the name of Christ
  • Inviting

We can certainly understand why He wouldn’t invoke His own name in the prayer. He commands us to do so. QED.

That leaves inviting unsupported. For this, we need to explore metaprayers. But, that will be another post.

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