Brett has been studying Hebrew and Greek a lot. Yesterday we started talking about the various verb forms in those languages and how conjugating a verb in the various forms gives a slightly different meaning.42D
In English we generally don’t think about the possibility of there being multiple forms of past tense. While there is a subjunctive tense in English, we rarely label it as such. But these tenses and others are important to know and understand in other languages.
When I was learning Portuguese on my mission, another missionary told me not to worry about the subjunctive, that nobody really uses it anyway. And if I did all past as the preterit and did not worry about the imperfect, people would understand me. While what he said was probably true, I would’ve sounded like a 2-year-old the whole time. So I worked on recognizing and using them correctly.
I don’t speak constantly in Portuguese any more, but I do still say all of my personal prayers in Portuguese. And as Brett and I talked about the importance of using the correct verb form, it struck me the implication of using the subjunctive in prayer. Simply by using the subjunctive you are expressing an attitude of “thy will be done.” I am asking for the possibility of blessings when I pray, not demanding those blessings.
I have been praying in Portuguese for more than ten years and yet that has never occurred to me before. I just knew that when asking for something you used the subjunctive. I didn’t realize just what that meant in a prayer.