Posted by: mr.verite | 7 February, 2008

Upward Communication (2/2)

Hi all. Yes, I’m posting on the Blog!! My exams are over, I’ve got no class, and no essays to hand in quite yet. So this is it: the recap from last monday chez Gibson.

The subject was prayer, studying Mt. 6.5-8.

First of all, Jesus tells us to not babbel when we pray, but to get straight to the point. We worked out more or less that what Jesus is telling us here is to mean what we say. We can say lots of words, if they’re all heart felt, and non repetitive. It might just be that we have loads of requests to bring to God, and that’s good. God wants that. We musn’t just pray for the sake of it, taking lightly the fact that we’re entering God’s presence, and addressing Him. So no small talk with God, which kind of makes my day, as I don’t do small talk too well…

Isaline brought up a very interesting question: how do we articulate the command to let our words be few on the one hand, and the whole fact that we should come to the Lord with prayer and petition. There were many attempts at an answer, but the best one is the one that Jesus gave: when you come into God’s presence, do not babbel like the pagans or the pharisees, or whatever. We can’t come to God lightly. I think that this particularly applies to public prayer, when we often feel the need to talk and sound holy.

Next question: If God knows all about our needs, why pray? There were again a few attempts at an answer. First of all, it is an attitude of humility and submission to God to come to Him and recognize that we need Him, in our situations. And God blesses humble hearts.

There’s also the fact that if we’ve asked God for something, when the thing happens, it’s all the mpre obvious that it’s from God than if we hadn’t asked for it: we often forget that everything comes from God, and God gets more thanks, praise and is glorified more when we’ve asked him for things in prayer.

We then tried to go through the Lord’s prayer, stopping at every verse to try and re-formulate it, and then pray over what the Lord tells us about how to pray.

So first verse: “Great and almighty God, (make yourself) be glorified on earth” (speaks about praise)

Second verse: “Please! Let there be more of God in this world and in our lives (concept of reigning)

Third verse: “Keep providing and help us trust in your faithfulness” (summed up by providence)

The next verse was the difficult one for me. Unfotunatelym instead of being all scholarly after my exam yesterday, I didn’t go and look up what people said about it in the library. Instead, I went out and played footbal, and whooped everyone, scoring five goals, three of which were stunning! We weren’t quite ready to sum it up when we realised that we really needed to move on to the next one, because of time pressing us.

Jenni made an interesting comment concerning verse 13, saying that “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” was a short way of asking God to clothe us which the armour of the Spirit.

We didn’t quite get to the end of the Lord’s prayer, and it would be cool to carry on studying it next time. There’s massive fruit for thought there, and going through it in detail like that has made me more calvinist then ever: I’d never seen how much Jesus really asks us to trust in God’s unwavering providence.

People tend to say that “if everything is predestined, then why pray?”, but this has really made me realise that’s it’s only because God has predestined everything, and that he’s fully sovereign over everything, including our wills that we can actually pray, and trust that God can answer. For a prayer to be answered, everything needs to be predestined for it to be able to be answered.

Anyway, massive fruit for thought there, and I’m still wrestling with the whole “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us”. But I’ll try to take time to look into it. I’ve found on Beki’s book shelve a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount by Don Carson, so that may prove really helpful.

Right, see y’all on Sunday.

And hopefully on the blog in the meen time.



  1. Thanks for the thorough commentary. I’m not sure I follow your logic that providence implies predestination… but that’s a big theological thorn, right?

    The thing that struck me about “give us this day our daily bread” was its wider connotations of social justice. Not just “give me this day my daily bread”. Which makes it a very challenging verse to pray just in case I need to be the answer to my own prayer!

    For the “forgiveness” clause, how about “Give us the humble, forgiving hearts that we need to receive your own forgiveness”?

  2. Well you see, this is the issue I’ve been struggling with: the verse doesn’t say that: it says “let God forgive our sins, in the same way that we forgive those who sin against us”. In the NIV, which is version that most people had last time, the verb is in the past tense: forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us. It’s us first, and then God. This became even more startling to me when I read the NIV Study Bible comment on the equivalent passage in Luke: “The prayer is a pattern for believers who have already been forgiven for their sins. Jesus speaks here of a daily forgivness, which is necessary to restore broken communion with God” This notion of “daily forgivness to restore broken communion with God” is alien to the rest of the New Testament, as far as I’m concerned! There really is no mention of needing to confess sins daily to be able to come to God. An attitude of recognition of our sinfulness, and humility before the holiness and amazing grace fo God is what’s required of us, in every moment of every day, and God quickens our sense of sinfulness at times. To say that we need to confess sins every day is really, really wrong: it de-emphasizes sin, belittles it, in a sense, because it implies that everyone of our sins are known to us, because they are obvious, and we have enough time and awareness to confess them all. That is WRONG! If I were to confess my sins every night in my quiet time, it would be ten times longer, and I wouldn’t have time for anything else.

    So surely this can’t be right. It can’t be the right translation: this notion that goes back deep in church history (and we tried to start purging it during the reformation, but even then didn’t go far enough) is still present today, and it is so false. Nowhere in the the New Testament are we called to confess our sins to get acceptance by God. It’s an attitude of humility, a contrite heart that God loves, not confession of sins everytime that you pray…

    So I looked in the greek. The past tense is indeed there! It is also translated in the past tense in the Nouvelle Bible Second, known for it’s accuracy, same for NASB, and TOB as well.The only translation which dosn’t have it is the Bible du Semeur, which is a fairly loose, dynamic translation. The note in the Bible d’etude du semeur says that it transaltes it litterally: “remets-nous nos dettes comme nous aussi nous avons remis a nos debiteurs”. Concerning the past tense, they say that it may come from the fact that Jesus spoke aramaic, which doesn’t have a present tense, so a good translation would be to use a present tense. And they comment he who asks forgiveness from the Lord can only forgive others himself. And they cross reference sends us to the parable of the unmerciful servant. Still the passage remains obscure to me, because of the order that Jesus uses: let God forgive us in the same way that we forgive others.

    Unless the translation be: “Forgive us our sins, and we will also forgive others because of your forgiveness.” It seems a twisted way to see the verse, but it’s the only way that seems to make sense of the rest of the New Testament. I haven’t found a better way of putting it.
    It just doesn’t seem to make sense with the rest of the New Testament, where the statements are more along the line of what you said.

  3. That was really confused and muddled, wasn’t it?! Sorry about the complexity of this post…

    Don’t feel like you have to understand it. I don’t quite get it all myself, and I wrote it… ;-(

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