"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Learning to pray the Lord's Prayer

Someone once made a satire of fundamentalist eccentricities in Catechism form. Among the questions was included this:

25. Q: What doth the Lord's Prayer teach us?
A: The Lord's Prayer teacheth us that we must never memorize a prayer, or use one that hath been written down.

Though many Christians may see the Lord's Prayer as a "vain repetition" it was originally given as an "anti-vain repetition" prayer. It is the example prayer given by Jesus when asked for a way to pray. Study of it, therefore, should not be ridiculed as silly, but studied as instructive and edifying. An impediment to that, however, is that we often recite the KJV wording, which is fine for corporate knowledge and worship, but a new wording and translation can be helpful for seeing what is being communicated and petitioned. For my Sunday School class, I offered my own translation to accompany a study of the seven petitions of the Lord’s prayer. What we may not realize, due to the archaic wording, is that the Lord’s prayer contains seven imperatives directed towards God the Father. Imperatives are used not because God is commanded to do something, but are used as seven requests it is appropriate to ask God for. Here is a my translation to help:

Our Father, Who is in the heavens

Cause your name to be treated as Holy
Bring your Kingdom
Make it come to pass that Your will is done on earth, like it is in heaven
Give us bread for today
Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those in debt to us
Do not bring us into temptation
But Rescue us from the evil one

As we now see the seven requests, we may be aided further in reading Questions 100-106 on the Lord’s Prayer in the Smaller Catechism (the SC combines the sixth and seventh due to their similarity):

Q. 100. What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?
A. The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, Our Father which art in heaven, teacheth us to draw near to God with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us; and that we should pray with and for others.

Q. 101. What do we pray for in the first petition?
A. In the first petition, which is, Hallowed be thy name, we pray that God would enable us, and others, to glorify him in all that whereby he maketh himself known; and that he would dispose all things to his own glory.

Q. 102. What do we pray for in the second petition?
A. In the second petition, which is, Thy kingdom come, we pray that Satan’s kingdom may be destroyed; and that the kingdom of grace may be advanced, ourselves and others brought into it, and kept in it; and that the kingdom of glory may be hastened.

Q. 103. What do we pray for in the third petition?
A. In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven, we pray that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

Q. 104. What do we pray for in the fourth petition?
A. In the fourth petition, which is, Give us this day our daily bread, we pray that of God’s free gift we may receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and enjoy his blessing with them.

Q. 105. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A. In the fifth petition, which is, And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors, we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by his grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.

Q. 106. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?
A. In the sixth petition, which is, And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I really like your translation Jared. I've learned recently to really pray the Lord's Prayer. It's funny that I grew up fundamentalist baptist and mennonite and we never memorized or prayed the Lord's Prayer, my parents called it a vain repetition. I heard someone say it in aramaic and it was really cool to think that it was something Jesus actually said. I guess you get to deal with that sort of thing alot, actually studying greek and hebrew.

God Bless