Prayer


Today I finished reading Owen Gingerich’s short book God’s Universe.  The book is laced with many wonderful historical anecdotes, one of which is this lovely prayer composed by Johannes Kepler as he ends his Harmonice mundi (The Harmony of the World) of 1619:

“If I have been enticed into brashness by the wonderful beauty of thy works, or if I have loved my own glory among men, while advancing in work destined for thy glory, gently and mercifully pardon me: and finally, deign graciously to cause that these demonstrations may lead to thy glory and to the salvation of souls, and nowhere be an obstacle to that.  Amen”

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If Jesus was in person with us today would this be how he would teach us to pray:

R Pa in hvn, prz ur name, ur hood here, ur wil b done, provide 4 r needs, 4giv r sins as we 4giv peps who dis us.  Keep us frm haters & lead us on da rite path. U r da bomb, glory 2 u 4eva n eva. Amen

This was composed as part of a Sunday morning youth project to rewrite sections of scripture in the words and phrases used in our own culture and in particular to use the shorthand prose used in text messages and to endeavour to synthesize the passage into the length of a twitter (i.e. 140 characters).

Here is how the Lords prayer appears in our Bible:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, [for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]  Matthew 6: 9-13 TNIV

A justification for our modernizing this prayer in our own lingo is actually part of what Jesus was teaching us.  In his day the language of prayer to Yahweh in Jewish communities was that of Hebrew.  However, the language of everyday life was Aramaic.  One of the many novel contributions that Jesus brought us in this prayer is that of praying in the common tongue as opposed to the more formal language of Hebrew, i.e. there is no scared language.

Of course rewriting this prayer isn’t anything new many attempts have been tried here are a few.

Eugene Peterson in The Message:

Our Father in heaven, Reveal who you are.  Set the world right; Do what’s best – as above, so below.  Keep us alive with three square meals.  Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.  Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.  You’re in charge!  You can do anything you want!  You’re ablaze in beauty!  Yes.  Yes.  Yes.

Rob Lacey in The Street Bible:

God in heaven, you’re our dad.  We respect everything you stand for.  We want others to.  Please bring heaven on earth: people living life your way, like the angels do.  Please bring us what we need to keep us going each day.  Please acquit us, as we cancel our grievances and throw them all away.  Please pull us back from the edge of evil, if you’re to take the credit.  You’re on your own.  It’s your throne.  Absolutely!

(I know it’s not very ‘street’, perhaps it was back in 2003 when it was published!)

The Ship of Fools (a Christian humor magazine) also ran a competition for a text message version back in 2001, here are the top three entries:

dad@hvn, ur spshl.we want wot u want&urth2b like hvn.giv us food&4giv r sins lyk we 4giv uvaz.don’t test us!save us!bcos we kno ur boss, ur tuf&ur cool 4 eva!ok?

r pa in evan, respect 2 u, may u rain ear as in evan. giv us r needs, 4giv rsin as we 4giv r nmes. resq us from the evil 1. 4 ur always the most xlent dude. yo

God@heaven.org, You rule, up and down. We need grub and a break. Will pass it on. Keep us focused. You totally rule long term. Amen

I think ours is the best.  What do you think?