My rendition of a daily prayer
Published 7:00 am Friday, September 4, 2015
Since the early 1970’s I have been a serious student of Sacred Scripture. My deep interest led me to pursue a master’s degree in Scripture and Theology through Loyola New Orleans in the late 70’s. I had five children in college at the time and was running my own business, Green Hollow Nursery, in Picayune.
Having been out of school for over twenty years, going to graduate school was a big challenge! I had to make good grades since I had always emphasized that with my children. The pressure was on!
It took me four years to earn my degree; and after that, I taught Scripture courses in local churches for a while and continued to study on my own. In the context of that effort, I learned about the language that Jesus actually spoke at the time of his ministry.
That language is called Aramaic. It is very different from the Hebrew and Greek languages in which the Old and New Testaments came to us over the centuries following Jesus’ ministry. I remember reading a comment about Aramaic and Greek that colorfully compared the two. Ultimately, Aramaic is more rudimentary, less elegant and less sophisticated compared to Greek. As the writer put it, Aramaic is like a pile of bricks while Greek is like a brick arch. I was fascinated by this difference in the languages, and I began to study Aramaic along with Scripture.
One of the challenges about understanding Aramaic is that much of the way its words are interpreted depends on the intonation, that is, how the words are pronounced and the syllables accentuated. Of course, we don’t know the intonation that was actually used when Jesus spoke his words to the crowds. So, there can be various interpretations for a given Aramaic word or phrase.
One of my delightful discoveries was a book, Prayers of the Cosmos, by an Aramaic scholar (Neil Douglas-Klotz) who had explored several different ways that the phrases in the Lord’s Prayer could be rendered, based on its original Aramaic words. As a personal exercise I looked at the various phrases he offered for the Lord’s Prayer and chose the ones that were meaningful to me. By doing this, I developed my own prayer based on the Lord’s Prayer.
Over the past 25 years, I’ve continued to revise and share this prayer with others. Below is my current rendition of the prayer, which I use daily. I wasn’t there, of course, to hear Jesus’ Aramaic words, but translating them myself into English words has made the Lord’s prayer even more spiritually nourishing and special to me.
A Daily Prayer
Your creative life giving presence
Permeates our world, our very being.
Make us deeply aware that we are in your presence.
Fill us with your creativity today
So we may be empowered, enabled and willing to bear the fruit of your vision for us.
Moving to the heartbeat of your purpose,
Make us the embodiment of your compassion.
Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share that which each of us needs to grow and flourish.
Untie the tangled threads of destiny –
Our ignorance, our mistakes, our selfishness,
Which bind and ensnare us.
Help us to release others from their mistakes and errors of judgment.
Do not allow us to be seduced by those things, ideas, or people
That would divert us from our true purpose –
Which is loving you first in life and being there for others.
Illuminate the opportunities of the present moment
In such a way that we will be more open to Your love,
Your grace, Your Holy Spirit’s guidance.
For you are the ground of the fruitful vision,
You are the birthing power,
You are the fulfillment,
As all is brought together and made whole once again.
We pray Father, in the name of Jesus and the power of your Holy Spirit,
By Jim Prator