Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Deliver Us from Evil

Darkwood Brew is an online community of faith that streams a weekly service on Sundays at 6:00 ET that utilizes jazz, Lectio Divina, Skype interviews, and online chat. It is currently in the middle of a series on the Lord's Prayer. Posted today on the Darkwood Brew Facebook page today was the following: "We're focusing this week on 'Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.' If you could choose which side of this phrase to discuss, which side would you choose and why?"

When I read this, I couldn't come to any conclusion about which side I preferred to discuss. I put aside my laptop and opened Brian McLaren's Naked Spirituality, which I've been reading slowly, one chapter a day. McLaren begins today's chapter, entitled "Help: Tapping into the Current of Power," with The Prayer of Jabez, which was very popular several years ago. He quotes the last part of Jabez' little prayer, using the NKJV, which is the version used by the book: "[K]eep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!"

I don't use the NKJV, and I didn't think much of The Prayer of Jabez. This juxtaposition, though, gives some poignancy to the above question. Jabez' name meant "pain" because his mother had a painful delivery. That's a pretty harsh name, so a prayer that says keep me from evil so I won't keep on being a pain would seem to be one that's rising up from his very identity. He's asking for grace to transcend that identity.

My name is biblical and means "beloved." That's not a name I need to run from, but rather run toward. As I think about being delivered from evil, I am prompted to pray, "Keep me from evil, that I may live up to being beloved, that I may live a life of love." As a communal prayer, the Lord's Prayer, prompts me to pray, "deliver us from evil, that we may be Christ's body redeemed by his blood" (a little Eucharist blessing thrown in there). Or, identifying the Lord's Prayer with all humanity: "deliver us from evil, that God's image might shine forth in our lives."

Just a few thoughts prompted by a bit of synchronicity between this week's question and my devotional reading.


Anonymous said...

David, my name means God Is My Judge! Which direction should I run? Great post.

David Miller said...

Maybe an alternate meaning is "God is my justice."