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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Prayers of the Gods

Our[a] Father [b]in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
[c]Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
[dBut deliver us from the evil one.
Luke 11:2-4

The Gospel of Mark, or rather, Mark's version of the Gospel Story, i.e., the latter part of the life of Jesus, although it does contain certain constituent elements ( Mark 11:25 & 26, et al  ) of the prayer known popularly as 'The Lord's Prayer' does not contain any semblance of the 'model' prayer itself!  As can be seen through even a cursory examination of the only other extant example of this prayer ( Matthew 6:9-13 ), it either adds to or subtracts from the version that Luke recounts in his 'Gospel', at least, as far as we can tell in our much-varied translations of the Bible. This is not to say we should disregard these words of Jesus, even insofar as they are recorded by these two 'Gospel' writers, for there are good & universal principals therein, but, as this 'model prayer' is not even recorded by Mark, the oldest 'Gospel' according to most biblical scholars, it is safe to say that it is very likely a later, though relatively good addition. In other words, these may not be Jesus' words at all, but simply some scribes ( which includes Matthew & Luke )!

The subject of 'prayer' is actually one of some controversy! Any good Christian worth his or her salt will glorify 'the power of prayer'. 'Prayer works', they might say; 'just have faith', they'll probably tell you. Does prayer work? Well, depending on what one means by such a bold statement, yes, it 'works'! Does it move the Hand of 'God'? Well, there again, such a question rests in one's understanding of what is meant by 'the Hand of God'! Previously, in the 'pages' of this blog, you may have read something to the effect that 'we ARE the Hand of God'; it is through us, it is through the ministration of the mundane ( most often ) that prayers are fulfilled. For example, we may pray 'give us this day.............' & the food may magickally appear before us, but most often, it is because somebody put it there! We pray 'forgive us our debts.................' but unless the one we have we have 'sinned' against tell us & shows by his or her actions that they have forgiven us, there is absolutely no proof of any forgiveness & we are left high & dry. The proof, you might say, is 'in the pudding', not just words in some book!

As we've also noted previously in this blog, the Psalmist ( Psalm 82:6 ) wrote, 'You [ are ] [e]gods' ( elohim ), a statement which Jesus seems to have no problem employing in John's 'Gospel'!  'Original audience' & 'covenant context' aside, it is safe to say that, biblically speaking, every Christian, at least, is a 'god': whether or not one ascribes a capital 'G' to this statement, there is no denying the fact that the same word used to identify the Hebrew God of Creation ( Genesis 1:1 ) is also used to describe His People, the Judges of Israel! ( I'm pretty sure that the original languages didn't employ a certain symbol denoting whether it was a capital or lower-case 'g' ) The point is, that although we certainly can't discount what many would call 'supernatural operation', it should be fairly evident that prayer is usually most effective when witnessed by other people, whether it be doctors or farmers. Whether it be through audible means ( hearing ) or by 'supernatural operations', it is abundantly clear that the fulfillment of prayer is most often, if not always accomplished through human, though Divine, intervention!

Charles Haddon Shank

 

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