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Thursday, September 26, 2019

The poetry of prayer

Rhythmic refrains, apt metaphors, and accurate phrases abound in poetic prayers and passages in the Bible – especially in Psalms and the prophetic books, such as Isaiah, but also scattered throughout. Some even consider one-third of scripture as poetry.

I noticed this in collecting the prayers recorded from Genesis to Revelation then paraphrasing them for the Book of Bible Prayers. But nowhere is the poetic quality of prayer more apparent than in Jesus’ example of prayer in the Gospels – first in the formal poetic phrasing in Matthew 6:9-13, then the conversationally poetic lines of Luke 11:2-4.

Earlier this week, I discussed aspects of this in “Bible Prayers: forgive us” on the Bible prayers site, which I hope you’ll be drawn to read. If so, notice the word choices in different translations of the line “forgive us our _______.”

Each of the choices illustrates the truth Jesus expressed, so it’s not a matter of which word is right or wrong, but which speaks to readers, personally in the text and poetically in the rhythmic flow of the surrounding words.

You’ll find the King James Version (KJV) of any biblical prayer or passage has the highest literary level of poetry. Some even think Shakespeare had a well-inked quill in that!

Consider, for example, King David’s prayer in Psalm 19:14 – a perfect, poetic prayer for poets and writers!

“Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in thy sight,
O Lord, my strength
and my redeemer,” KJV.

If you would like the poetic King James Version only collected into a unique prayer book, you'll be happy to hear the Book of KJV Prayers is now available on Amazon. May this book and the contemporary paraphrases in the Book of Bible Prayers find a place on your nightstand or under a Christmas tree. 

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