Sunday, January 7, 2018

The Proactive Structure of the Lord's Prayer

As noted in my prior post, Pope Francis is concerned that the Roman Church's traditional translation of the Lord's Prayer might confuse believers, so as to think God might somehow lead them into temptation.

But his new rendering only produces an opposite problem, introducing a passive tense and voice not in the grammar. Thus, I have challenged him on lexicographic, grammatical and theological grounds. Let me further address the latter.

There are four all-defining subjects within the prayer. Here they are, followed by each of the four lines of the prayer from the original Greek:

1. Family – Our Father in the heavens, holy is your Name.
2. Politics – Your kingdom come, your will be done, in heaven and on earth.
3. Economics – Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
4. Spiritual Warfare – And do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

I teach a whole 2-3 hour seminar unpacking this prayer, and go into the reasons why I believe such a translation is accurate. For here, focusing on the clause in question, let me make these observations.

1. The prayer involves a) complete dependency on the goodness of God's kingship, b) calling for his kingdom to come, and thus c) acting in life accordingly.
2. If we do not know how this is the foundation for an overcoming proactive faith (e.g., the letters to the seven churches
in Revelation, v. 2:7 and its repetitions), we can easily slip into a passive, defensive mode.
3. So whereas it is folly to seek to oppose the evil one on our own initiatives, it is folly not to take the authority, led by the Spirit, to drive out demons in personal and political contexts, as Jesus commissioned his disciples.
4. When Jesus is led by the Spirit into the testings/temptations of the devil, he is the One with the proactive power to defeat the evil one. We pray that God will not lead us into the same testing, but based on what Jesus has done, to take his victory his employ it actively in his Name.

In my book, Genesis and the Power of True Assumptions (Second Edition), available at, the whole theological foundation in Parts I and II of the book lead to Part III and its focus on spiritual warfare. Those who know this biblical territory will readily see how the Lord's Prayer is the foundation for a proactive and overcoming faith, and how there is no passive tense in the Christian life.


Matthew 4

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