Oh, That Men Would Pray
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Ogilvie, The Romans, Because of all these Roman ideas about their relationship with the gods, many such pagan prayers of petition ended up being quite wordy in an effort to solicit a favorable response. Though there are some extant records of prayers that were short and precise, there are also many records of these longer types of prayers. If your will, and fate, keep my Pallas safe, if I live to see him and be together with him, I ask for life: I have the patience to endure any hardship.
Nymphs, Laurentine Nymphs, from whom is the generation of rivers, and thou, O father Tiber, with thine holy flood, receive Aeneas and deign to save him out of danger. Ah, be thou only by me, and graciously confirm thy will. O Jupiter, commanded by thy birds, I here laid the first foundation of the city on the Palatine hill.
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The Sabines are in possession of the citadel, purchased by fraud. From thence they are now advancing hither, sword in hand, having already passed the middle of the valley. But do thou, father of gods and men, keep back the enemy at least from hence, dispel the terror of the Romans, and stop their shameful flight.
Here I solemnly vow to build a temple to thee as Jupiter Stator, as a monument to posterity, that this city was saved by thy immediate aid. Livy 1.
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Below is a prayer for blessing recorded by the Roman historian Cato — BC that was offered during a purification rite:. May You also keep the shepherds and their flocks safe, and give good health and vigor to me, to the household, and to our family. To this end it is, as I have said — namely, for the purification and lustration of my estate, my land, and my grain fields, cultivated and uncultivated — that I pray You may be honored and strengthened by this [offering of a pig, sheep, and bull], these suckling sacrificial victims.
O Father Mars, to this same end I pray that You bless these sucklings in sacrifice. Cato Agr. There are many more such long, wordy Gentile prayers in the extant records, but the above should suffice as sufficient for an understanding on what Jesus is talking about. There is a lot more going on in this passage than what we see on the surface.
Though the primary focus is on the proper way to pray, there are some critical underlying insights. There is a contrast being stressed between the true God and the gods of the pagans, as well as the relationship between God and his people in distinction to the relationship of the Gentiles with their gods.
The true God is omniscient and already knows what one needs, what one is going to request, and all the specifics about it. He also loves his people and stands ready to give one anything and everything that they need as long as it is according to his will.
Matthew 6:7: Do Not Pray Like the Gentiles
All one needs to do is ask in simplicity with this understanding. Jesus is not telling us to avoid asking for anything specific, but rather telling us that we do not need to fluff up our prayers like the Gentiles do. There is no need to make requests of God with a lot of unnecessary verbiage like we might when pleading with a human being for something or entering into a legal agreement with another. Such manner of praying will not make our prayer more effective.
No explanation, detailed particularization, persuasion, offer, promise, or flattery is necessary. In other words, the point of the passage is that our God already knows us, knows what we are going to ask for, cares about us, and responds favorably to us. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine.
And he went to his father's house at Ophrah and killed his brothers the sons of Jerubbaal, seventy men, on one stone. But Jotham the youngest son of Jerubbaal was left, for he hid himself. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.
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And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down , in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.
For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains. And the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon all the men of valor, 7,, and the craftsmen and the metal workers, 1,, all of them strong and fit for war.
Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.
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And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord after Ehud died. And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor. The commander of his army was Sisera, who lived in Harosheth-hagoyim. Then the people of Israel cried out to the Lord for help, for he had chariots of iron and he oppressed the people of Israel cruelly for twenty years. Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.
And will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And throw them into the fiery furnace. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret. When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel.
And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. And is there any man who has planted a vineyard and has not enjoyed its fruit?
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Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man enjoy its fruit. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money. First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, And say to the land of Israel, Thus says the Lord : Behold, I am against you and will draw my sword from its sheath and will cut off from you both righteous and wicked.
Because I will cut off from you both righteous and wicked, therefore my sword shall be drawn from its sheath against all flesh from south to north. He who is far off shall die of pestilence, and he who is near shall fall by the sword, and he who is left and is preserved shall die of famine. Thus I will spend my fury upon them. And you shall know that I am the Lord , when their slain lie among their idols around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountaintops, under every green tree, and under every leafy oak, wherever they offered pleasing aroma to all their idols. The words of King Lemuel.
An oracle that his mother taught him: What are you doing, my son? What are you doing, son of my womb? What are you doing, son of my vows?
Do not give your strength to women, your ways to those who destroy kings. It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.