Jazz, Prayers, and a Translation in Progress

Quiet jazz music flows around me at the kitchen table here tonight. Hot water in my favorite mug warms and relaxes me. Three year old Daniel just downed two yogurts. “I hungry, Mom,” he had declared earlier.

I love being a mom: hearing his requests, striving to meet them if they are good for him, and then snuggling beside him as he tells me about his day in kid-speak. Often we have to stop and translate his words for others, since everything is not intelligible yet.

A few weeks ago, my husband taught a lesson on the Lord’s Prayer to our youth group teens. In Matthew 6:9-15, it says,

“This, then, is how you should pray:
‘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.'”

My husband pointed out to our teens that the first line encapsulates the two extremes of God’s character –huge, Creator of the world, worthy of being hallowed (praised as holy); and yet we are to call Him Father. Such an intimate personal term. Freedom yet reverence.

Verses 9 and 10 deal mostly with large, cosmic issues: God’s authority and the instant obedience that happens in heaven; the odd tension here on earth of the “earth’s being the Lord’s” and yet it being enemy-occupied territory for a season while the evil one has a limited time here (2 Corinthians talks about the “god of this age has blinded their eyes” to the Truth, and 1 John 5:19 states that “the whole world is under the control of the evil one”).

The next verses of the Lord’s Prayer step away from the abstract cosmos, getting more personal and quotidenne. I am told to talk to God openly about my basic physical needs; to enlist his aid in making the healthy emotional choices of forgiveness, releasing resentment; and to run to him honestly in spiritual issues of temptation.

Wanting the teens to better grapple with the Lord’s Prayer after this teaching, my husband asked them to write the prayer in their own words. Laughter, murmured thoughts aloud, and silent reflection reigned on the mismatched couches in the youth area for several minutes. Then bit by bit, they read their paraphrased prayers aloud. It was beautiful.

Trying to put God terms into human words sometimes leaves me grasping for words like a preschooler with some unintelligible words. I’m so thankful for my Abba Daddy who knows kid-speak and can translate for me. He knows my needs, teaches me, and then snuggles up to hear about my day. Here’s my paraphrase of the Lord’s prayer from that night.

“Our big strong heavenly Dad,
Great is your name—great is your glory.
We look forward to you kicking out the evil one; and our world no longer being an occupied fallen territory. I can’t wait until the stain of sin is lifted off the earth to be pure and clean like in heaven.
Please provide our food and needs each day. Forgive us and help us forgive others.
Help me to recognize sin and hate it, staying away from it. Protect me from the evil one.”

What about you? Want to join me in this fun exercise? You can post your paraphrase below as a comment or feel free to blog about it and then link back to me here, so we can share it together. It’s a helpful way to reflect more on the Lord’s Prayer. Plus, how was your Thanksgiving? What was your favorite dessert then?

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  1. Dontmissyoursunsetlady on November 27, 2011 at 2:54 am

    Wow that is a great idea! How real it makes the prayer for her and now! Thanks!

  2. Jennifer Dougan on November 27, 2011 at 11:30 am

    Hi Angelonwheels,

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this. How is your week going?


  3. Elizabeth on November 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    we had such a great Thanksgiving! It has to be one of my favorite days of the year – a much-needed time to slow down. Cooking for hours, eating for hours and hours of talking and laughing with old and new friends. The dessert high light was pumpkin pie (which is not easy to come by in Russia!) with whipped cream…enjoyed your post on prayer 🙂 I have so many great memories of youth group lessons. Lessons learned from you guys that I still use today!

  4. Jennifer Dougan on November 28, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thanks for your comments here. Yes, hours of relaxing with friends, family and food are so wonderful, aren't they? So where do you get pumpkin pie supplies in Russia?

    I'm glad you have good memories of youth group and lessons there. We have great memories too, and you are in them! 🙂 This Lord's prayer exercise was interesting to me.

    See you in MN soon.

  5. Lisa notes... on November 29, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    I think this is a great idea, Jennifer. It makes you really read the words carefully to dig into the meaning. I love your interpretation.

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