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What more can be said?

“This, then, is how you should pray..." Matthew 6.9


In the summer of 1941 Simone Weil went to stay with a friend. They agreed that they would learn the Lord's Prayer in its original Greek. Simone suspected her friend never fulfilled his side of the bargain but she did. She recited it every day during the grape harvest in the vineyard where she worked. And then she wrote up her meditations...


As ever Weil is not content to dwell on the surface. She goes deep. One example lies in the phrase translated Give us this day our daily bread. This is usually interpreted as a call to be content with our everyday material needs. For Weil, however, the petition directs us straight to Jesus and demands our total attention. As the Eucharist presents the miracle of Christ's presence in a morsel of bread, so encountering Christ himself is immediate and real. So vital is that relationship that we pray for its renewal every day. Once in a lifetime is not enough; we need divine communion all day ,every day.


Weil also discerns patterns in the composition of Jesus' masterclass. Consisting of three pairs of petitions each complementing the other, the prayer also adopts different attitudes. The fist half moves from acceptance to desire and back to acceptance and in the second half the order is reversed: desire, acceptance, desire. So we recognise God's glory, seek his kingdom and submit to his authority (first half). Then we desire his presence (on account of his glory), remit all debts (in light of his mercy) and beg for his deliverance (as he alone has the power to save).


In The Lord's Prayer Weil discerns the ultimate response of humanity to the context in which we inhabit the universe in fellowship with one another and before God. Only God could author such a complete and concise overture. Yet, to be utterable on human lips, it had to come from a human heart. God in Christ squares the circle, so that his prayer has perfect integrity, lighting the path for faithful living.

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