The prayers of Paul
This is a series on the prayers of St Paul found in the letters attributed to him in the order he is believed to have written them. Letters to the same place or person will be treated together with the first letter to that destination.
25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.Romans 16:25-27 ESVUK
Writing and having dyslexia is a challenge. When I proofread what I have written I generally see what I think I have written, which is not always what is on the page. Spell check is my friend, even if it is not always changed to the right word, but things are much better. After spell-checking twice, grammar-checking and proofreading again I am OK with the results. Even though I know that mistakes still get through. Understandable is good enough for me.
I wonder I Paul thought the same about this last sentence. It must be a translator’s nightmare because it is a grammatical mess.
That is how I write sometimes. I write, forget some point I have forgotten and insert it into what is down, then something else. Eventually, I have to break it all down into points, put them in order and rewrite. Paul, however, leaves his prayer at the end of Romans in a grammatical mess, maybe it’s because he spoke that way and the scribe did not correct him, Paul admits that he wrote his letters by dictating, Or else he looked, saw what he had written, saw the mess but thought, “It contains all I want to say,” and left it, content that the message will get through.
I was taught a rule on writing sentences in School, one subject one sentence. Yes I break that rule if it obstructs the flow of what I am writing, but look at the subject matter here:
- To him who is able to strengthen you
- according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ,
- according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
- but has now been disclosed and
- through the prophetic writings
- has been made known to all nations,
- according to the command of the eternal God,
- to bring about the obedience of faith
- to the only wise God
- be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.
Ten points in one sentence, it’s a mess.
But it does not matter that it’s a mess. Our prayers are supposed to be a mess. Christian theology says that we are weak and God is strong, it is when we are weak that God works through us. God is not after well-formed grammatically correct prayers which show a brilliant command of English, or any other language. God accepts our heartfelt prayers which falter partway through because we can’t find the correct words, or where we stumble over words because we are too upset or anxious to get them out. God is longing to hear your prayers from the heart, even if they have not been filtered through your intellect first.
This means that anyone can pray, from the child just learning to speak to the professor of English. We are all at the same level.
I really like this prayer of Paul. It may be a mess grammatically, but it is from the heart.
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2 thoughts on “Unstructured Prayer—Romans 16:25-27”
Massive parenthesis. It took me a long time before I began to bracket out the bit after ‘Jesus Christ’ and up to ‘to the only wise God…’ As you say, a few apparently random thoughts on the nature of the teaching but I guess to Paul they are important aspects of our faith. A good reminder of why we are giving Him the glory.
It’s typical of Paul’s writing, going from carefully structured arguments into a train of thought and back again.