“And, whenever you stand up to pray, forgive any grievance that you have against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven also may forgive you your offenses.”
when asking for the world
the world asks for you
asks for you to not ask
ahead of time
disjunctured asking asks
far too little
small asks hurt someone
far too much
when that someone is you
pause your asking
pray like a generous mountain
asking big asks
big enough for a world
to rejoice you asked
Prayer is here described as a process of moving toward a new age, a new good news. It is a vehicle for everything withered to be whole again.
The emphasis on forgiveness forecloses the possibility that Mark meant us to conclude that Jesus desires or approves the withering of the tree; instead, he quotes Jesus saying words that urge forgiveness and imply restoration. And forgiveness and renewal, not judgment and damnation, seem to me to be the key motifs in Mark’s Gospel as a whole.
“Whenever” is a present indicative that represents repeated action. Every prayer is to have some aspect of forgiveness in it. This brings to mind a four-fold prayer form I have advocated in the past:
- Identify what one aspect of G*D you are calling upon for a need at hand;
- Say in one non-run-on sentence what the “ask” is. If it does not contain something about mercy or forgiveness, reshape it until it does or add a second sentence to so frame your ask.
- Express Thanks.
- Say “Amen” and claim the assurance found at the beginning of verse 23 which begins with the Greek ἀμήν (amēn, amen).
Once again, we are returning to Mark’s beginning with Baptizer John setting this Jesus story in motion with forgiveness and changed hearts. The mutuality between forgiveness and renewal is deep within Jesus’ tradition, as is the partnership between G*D and S*lf and Neighb*r that so relies upon continued support and correction.