Forever and ever or Over and over?


beddingI’m not really sure why, but lately as I curl up with God I begin my prayers with the Lord’s Prayer.  I expect that it is the easiest way to get my mind to stop spinning with all my thoughts from the day.  Last night was no exception, so there I lay mentally saying;

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done
on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our debts
as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into  temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory forever.
Amen

Last night when I reached the word forever my mind took a twist.  My dad and I had been talking about the ‘ever’ vs. ‘ever and ever’ issue that had been around in our churches for years now.  As he would say, “If ever is infinity, why do we need two?”  Long ago one of my former ministers made this basic point and at that church we dropped the extra ever.  In the congregation I am in now we similarly don’t double our infinity.

In many churches (RC and Orthodox for example) this is a non issue because they don’t use the extended ending to the prayer, stopping after deliver us from evil.  This version is from a different transcript of Matthew.

What if in the first ever we refer directly to the acknowledgement of God’s power, and glory as eternal and the other to the other parts of the prayer?  What if we ended with over and over instead of ever and ever?  The fact of the eternal nature of God is, to most of us praying, a given.  Over and over reflect rather than on God’s nature but on our imperfection.  I don’t just need God to forgive me today for the things I messed up today but will also need him tomorrow and the next day.  While his power is always there and certain it is in my slightly dense nature that I need to hear it over and over.

How many times have I wandered off in the direction of temptation and been pulled back from the brink?  How many times have I had far more than I needed and still complained and wanted more?  How often have I needed God’s help to forgive others and to recognize the ways in which I have wronged others? How often have I felt discouraged by the seemingly overwhelming power of evil in our world and needed to be reminded that God is stronger?

So, for the next little while as I repeat the Lord’s prayer I will end it this way;

For thine is the kingdom
the power, and the glory
I need to help me, over and over.
Amen

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