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The Lord's Prayer is Not a Hymn: Karl Rahner on Daring to Ask God for Things

War Series: Prayer Jacob Lawrence 1947

"[T]here is a prayer of petition which speaks to God and is not a mere exorcism of one's own heart, but boldly and explicitly ventures to ask him for bread, peace, restraint of enemies, health, the spread of his kingdom on earth, and a host of such earthly and highly problematic things. "That such prayer combines a great measure of 'self-will' (for one presents to him one's own desires) with a supreme degree of submissiveness (for one prays to him whom one cannot compel, persuade, or charm, but only beg), that here there is a mingling and an incomprehensible fusion of the greatest boldness with the deepest humility, of life with death, this makes the prayer of petition in one respect not the lowest but the highest, the most divinely human form of prayer. Why else is the Lord's Prayer not a hymn but a sevenfold petition?

"There should be more stubborn and humble, more insistent and urgent supplication among Christians; supplication even for those things which appear to us, shortsighted though we may be be, of importance, even for that realization of God's kingdom, such as we are necessarily led to imagine it. For the prayer of petition, robust and straightforward, is a power in the world and in its history, in heaven and on earth."

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