The prayer life of people of all faiths throughout history has often been the one thing that truly connected individuals of every race, color and tongue. From the very time humanity realized the existence of God, we have been calling out to that One who we call God, Abba, Father, Creator and hosts of other names too. As part of our organized way to pray, groups of people have come together for centuries to pray as one feeling comforted in times of great sorrow and pain as well as in times of great celebration too. We as Catholic Christians have a rich, long faith around our prayer life and the many kinds of devotions that have become part of the very fabric of who we are as a praying people.
We call out to God in our prayer and we hope, trust and have the faith that God hears us. Sometimes we only seem to be calling out in our need. For example, we pray to God when we are afraid someone might die or, has died. We pray to God asking for health for a family member or friend. We pray to God when we want rain or assistance with our jobs, school work or sporting events. We pray to God when we want anything. We sometimes even pray to get the right lottery numbers to take away all our financial problems. Sometimes we might even try to “make a deal” with God to be better people if He would just give us better health, more fulfilling job, better mate, more obedient children, a deeper faith or just a nicer home life. These kinds of petition prayers, asking for things we want or need, are just one way of praying or conversing with God. Prayers of thanksgiving are totally different. How unfortunate it would be if, after we have prayed for that great job that we forget to pray in THANKSGIVING to God for getting the job. We might regularly pray grace before meals as a way of thanking God; but do we pray after the meal for all who made that possible and to perhaps remember those who are less fortunate than we? Prayers of thanksgiving as well as praise, adoration, honor, glory and unity are all parts of our prayer life. How many ways do we pray?
There is something I would like to share with you that is very near and dear to my heart and, I believe, also for many other folks too. When I was ordained in May of 2000, I offered a prayer card commemorating the event of my ordination. That prayer card had a translation of, “The Lord’s Prayer.’ What is different about this version is in the translation. Most people know that Jesus spoke in his native tongue which was Syriac Aramaic. Jesus understood Latin and Greek according to our traditions as well. The version that we pray and have known since our childhood we also know was translated from the Syriac Aramaic to Greek to Latin and eventually into English as well as other languages. This version of, “The Lord’s Prayer,” here is a direct translation from the Syriac Aramaic right into English. I offer this to you for your prayerful consideration.
“O Thou, the breath, the light of all,
let this light create a heart-shrine within,
and your counsel rule til oneness guides all.
Your one desire then acts with ours, as in light, so in all forms.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.
Loose the cords of mistakes binding us,
as we release the strands we hold of others’ faults.
Don’t let surface things delude us, but keep us from unripe acts.
To you belongs the ruling mind, the life that can act and do, the song that beautifies all, from age to age it renews.
In faith I will be true.”
---The Lord’s Prayer
Translated from Syriac Aramaic
The first language of Jesus of Nazareth