And… That Prayer

Photo of two plaques on a wall. On the left is a text of the Lord's Prayer in Tahitian; on the right is the text in Japanese. A cross hangs on the wall between them.

[Jesus] said to them, “When you pray, say:…
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive
everyone indebted to us.”

– Luke 11:2a, 4a

Teach me to pray, Jesus.
Teach me to pray to the One in Heaven.
Teach me to pray to the Hallowed Name.
Teach me to pray for a Peaceable Realm.
Teach me to pray for the Needs of Today.
Teach me to pray that You will Forgive.

Qualified forgiveness, of course.
It would hardly be right
if All and Sundry received forgiveness.
So forgive me only if…



If I forgive?

You have got to be joking.

Let’s take a good look at this.

Shouldn’t it be God, or shouldn’t it be You,
responsible for forgiveness here?
Can’t you make the choice?
Can’t you make the call?
Aren’t you far more dependable than I?

When you told bold Cephas
that he held the keys to heaven and hell,
did you tell him they were the keys to his own?
That grace received depends on grace extended?
Did you?

Good God, Jesus, don’t give those keys to me.

Seriously, don’t give those keys to me.

Damn it.

What’s that jingling noise?

A poem/prayer based on Luke 11:1-13, the Revised Common Lectionary alternate first reading for Year C, Proper 12.

The picture shows the Lord’s Prayer in two languages – Tahitian and Japanese – at the Church of the Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Photo by Ori~ – Own work, Attribution,

2 thoughts on “And… That Prayer

  1. This is a wonderful poem and I find myself thinking that we often think that faith is padlocked — that there is some extricate combination that we could never “crack” or maybe that we are the only ones that can while it is this old fashioned key, this jingling heavy opening of the heart.

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