Monday, February 14, 2011

Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) on the Lord's Prayer

This is Chapter 6 of ABBA - Meditations Based upon the Lord's Prayer, first published in 1940 by Longmans, Green & Co Ltd.

IN the first part of the Lord's Prayer, we are wholly concerned with God's glory. We pray with angelic spirits; creatures whose purposes are completely harmonized with the Creative Will. In the second part, we turn from the Eternal Splendour to our earthly limitations, and bring before God the burden, neediness and sinfulness of our state.

Give us this day our daily bread.

With this proclamation of our utter dependence, the presentation before God of the simplest and most fundamental of our needs, we pass from adoration to petition, and enter into the full paradox of Christian prayer: the unspeakable majesty and abiding perfection of the Infinite, and because of that majesty and that perfection, the importance of the claim of the fugitive, the imperfect, the finite.

There is a natural tendency in man to reverse this order of approach; to come before God in a spirit of heaviness, greatly concerned with his own imperfections, needs and desires-"my soul and its shortcomings," "the world and its wants"-and defer the putting on of the garment of praise: that wedding-garment which introduces us into the company of the sons of God and is the only possible beginning of real prayer. Here, Christ's teaching and practice are decisive.

First the heavenly, then the earthly. First ascend in heart and mind to the Eternal, adore the Father, seek the Kingdom, accept the Will: and all the rest shall be added unto you. Again and again the New Testament insists on that . . . keep reading


Alice C. Linsley said...

Such wisdom and insight from a woman who knew how to pray. I wish I could have known Evelyn Underhill. I always gain something from reading her work.

Thanks for posting this!

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