RELEASE US FROM OUR SINS
As I read your words today, Lord Jesus, teach me; I hunger to learn more of you, of how I must walk with you and for you.
Read LUKE 11:1-4
Jesus’ Teaching on Prayer
11 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Almighty … God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts.’1
Here is Luke’s shorter version of this greatly loved, deeply meaningful prayer. I have often participated in translating it into Indigenous Australian and Pacific languages. Praise God, most language groups have a Christian community today. Foreign translators no longer see themselves translating the Bible for unbelievers but supporting local Christians doing it for themselves. We usually begin with a gospel, but so often people ask for the Lord’s Prayer first, wanting to express all the depth of its meaning in the language of their hearts.
‘Father’ is a simple word in all languages, often a baby word. We can draw close to God, even call him ‘Father,’ an intimacy that is ours even though God’s name is a holy name, which he alone can possess. ‘Hallowed’ challenged us in languages lacking a word for God’s good and perfect holiness but only had words of fear, like ‘taboo.’ A way was found, however: God’s high name stands alone, above all other names. Kingdom, too, is complex until we understand it as our deep longing for God to come and rule over us. Praying for our daily bread is familiar to Christians in poor communities. Where bread is not eaten, we may say ‘rice’ or just ‘food.’ In one Aboriginal community, we struggled to find a word for ‘forgive.’ We thought deeply about forgiveness and listed possible words like remove, throw away, cover, or untie. In the end we all knew it was to untie, to release us, to set us free: a bold translation, asking God to free us from our sins in the way we release the sins of others. Luke’s final phrase was less difficult. Everyone in the world knows what sin is and the power of temptation: ‘Don’t let us go down the track to sin.’
May our Lord of the narrow way not let us go to sin but, when we do, release us, free us to follow him once more along the path to eternal life.
Thank you, Jesus, for teaching me with your actions and words how to pray. Through the prayer you gave us, you teach us about God and our relationship with him. As I pray it now, and linger with each phrase, Holy Spirit, speak to me of the greatness of my God!
1 Collect for Ash Wednesday, Book of Common Prayer, 1662
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