One of the strangest features of that weirdly under-religious collection of texts known as the New Testament is how little there is in it on prayer. In fact, given that almsgiving, prayer and fasting are usually the visible pillars of what we call “religion”, it is odd how little the New Testament attends to any of them. The only place where all three are treated with something like rigour is in the first eighteen verses of the sixth chapter of St Matthew’s Gospel. And there they undergo, as I hope to show you, what appears to be a gross relativisation. They are completely subordinated to, and reinterpreted by, a penetrating understanding of the working of desire.