St Augustine of AfricaContinued from here….

For whatever other words we may say – whether the desire of the person praying go before the words, and employ them in order to give definite form to its requests, or come after them, and concentrate attention upon them, that it may increase in fervour – if we pray rightly, and as becomes our wants, we say nothing but what is already contained in the Lord’s Prayer.

And whoever says in prayer anything which cannot find its place in that gospel prayer, is praying in a way which, if it be not unlawful, is at least not spiritual; and I know not how carnal prayers can be lawful, since it becomes those who are born again by the Spirit to pray in no other way than spiritually.

For example, when one prays: “Be Thou glorified among all nations as Thou art glorified among us,” and “Let Thy prophets be found faithful,” what else does he ask than, “Hallowed be Thy name”?

When one says: “Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause Thy face to shine, and we shall be saved,” what else is he saying than, “Let Thy kingdom come”?

When one says: “Order my steps in Thy word, and let not any iniquity have dominion over me,” what else is he saying than, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”?

When one says: “Give me  neither poverty nor riches,” what else is this than, Give us this day our daily bread “?

When one says: “Lord, remember David, and all his compassion,” or, “O Lord, if I have done this, if there be iniquity in my hands, if I have rewarded evil to them that did evil to me,” what else is this than, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”?

When one says: “Take away from me the lusts of the appetite, and let not sensual desire take hold on me,” what else is this than, “Lead us not into temptation”?

When one says: “Deliver me from mine enemies, O my God; defend me from them that rise up against me,” what else is this than, “Deliver us from evil”?

And if you go over all the words of holy prayers, 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.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Letter to Proba, XII, 22 @ Crossroads Initiative.

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