A Prayer...in Progress
I am about as far away from being a “fundamentalist” and a “Bible thumper” as one can be. For starters, I’m a non-theist…but that’s another story.
So I often surprise myself (and others) by my regular attendance at a Bible study in our Quaker Meetinghouse.
We meet at 7 a.m. on Mondays. Yes, you read that right, “a.m.” We are not all Quakers. We have a Lutheran, a Jew, a Zen Buddhist and a Methodist in our group. We all seem to be members of the sect called "morning people."
I see our gatherings more as “Bible Scrutiny” than “Bible Study.” My reading, and that of others in attendance, is critical, in the best sense of the word.
The Bible, both the Hebrew and Christian texts, tells us so much about ourselves: The good, the bad and much in-between. It also tells us much about the past of 2000 or more years ago.
This last Monday about 10 of us were deep into the Gospel of Luke when the Lord’s prayer, the “Our Father,” came before us.
Someone asked who among us frequently recites The Lord’s Prayer. Several hands went up.
The words before me reminded me of why.
In the course of discussion I gently offered that The Lord’s Prayer, beginning with its name, doesn’t speak to my condition. Two thousand years ago, it might have done the job in male-dominated society.
As a critical creature of contemporary Western society, I have problems with “Father” and “Heaven” and “Kingdom.”
I shared that when I find need for what might be called “prayer,” I sometimes repeat a stanza of “Amazing Grace.” The part about being lost and then found, being blind but then seeing, is often helpful.
Still, “Amazing Grace” often falls short of my needs. So early this morning I took a serious look at “The Lord’s Prayer” to compose a substitute.
Here is my “Prayer,” in progress, followed by “The Lord’s Prayer.”
O omnipresent, eternal spirit in all,
Beyond words are your name and being.
Beyond time and place and all mystery.
In unity, teach us – boundless, embracing spirit – not to judge, punish or harm.
Teach us to be earthly vessels of compassion, forgiveness and love.
Reveal our oneness with cloud and rain and soil, with tree and river and ocean, with bird and beast and insect, with friend and stranger…with you.
When we are lost, limitless spirit, help us find you within.
Lead us to know we are not alone – ever.
Help us live in grace, joy and peace.
In your presence in the vast and deep stillness, lead us on the path of Truth and Love and Light.
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.