Teach Young Prayer Leaders

In prayers for the elements of the Lord Supper, the phrase “Bless, O Lord, this bread (fruit of the vine), so that it will become a symbol of your body (blood)” is becoming very common among many prayer leaders in Ilocano, Tagalog and even in English services. I would imagine that this is the same in Cebuano and other dialects in the Philippines.

There are times that these prayer leaders fail to interrelate the one who is addressed at the beginning of the petition (God, Father, Lord, Powerful Creator) to the one who is asked to grant supplications or favors at the middle of the prayer and to the one who is asked to mediate at the end of prayer.

     When the Father is understood to be the one addressed at the beginning of the prayer, many would wonder why the prayer leader used the phrase “Bless, O Lord, this bread so that it will become a symbol of your body.” Obviously the Father did not offer a body for the sins of humanity. Certainly, there is a grammatical error that is committed. Here is where our more experienced evangelists, preachers, older members should teach the young prayer leaders.

There are several ways of looking at the situation where the grammatical error is committed.

 Situations in Mind

Situation #1. If the prayer is addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ, the phrase “… your body (blood)” would be consistent and correct. However, the closing part should not be asked “in the name of Jesus.” One could simply close the prayer in this manner: “We trust that You will grant our prayer. Amen.”  Considering the over all picture of the prayer, we have the Lord Jesus as the noun (antecedent), the pronoun “your” at the middle part of the prayer refers to the noun (antecedent), and at the end we don’t make Jesus mediate to Himself. Stephen in Acts 7:57-59 directed his prayer to Jesus Christ, our Lord. I won’t object to a Lord’s Supper prayer that is addressed to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Situation #2. If the prayer is addressed to the Father (Lord God, God, Father, Almighty Creator) at the beginning of the petition, the phrase, “… your body (blood)” would be inconsistent and grammatically incorrect at the middle part of the prayer. The Father of the Lord Jesus did not offer a body or blood for the propitiation of humanity’s sins.

Rule of the Pronoun  

We should teach our young prayer leaders the rule of the pronoun. In Tagalog Balarila, a pronoun is panghalip. Ibig sabihin, sa halip na  ulit-ulitin mo ang pangngalan (noun) in the paragraph, gamitin ang panghalip upang hindi repetitious ang noun. At bago mo gamitin ang panghalip, kailangang ihayag  mo muna ang pangngalan sa unahan. Ang pangngalan na yan ang antecedent o ituturo ng panghalip na sumusunod.

Because the noun “Father” is the noun established in case  #2, the pronoun “your” is inappropriate referent at the middle part of the prayer. So we have to teach our young prayer leaders not to use this pronoun; instead they should mention Jesus Christ as the one whose body (blood) we are celebrating. And at the end part of the prayer, the prayer leader could name Jesus Christ as the intercessor.

Lord Refers to the Father

One may ask, “Is it scriptural to use the term ‘Lord’ (Apo in Iloco, Panginoon in Tagalog, Ginoo in some dialects, Kurios in Greek) as the person addressed in the beginning of a prayer referring to God the Father?

Certainly, the term “Lord” may refer to the Father. It does refer to the Son also. See Mtt.11:25 and 22:44. Get an unabridged concordance and see how many times “Lord” refers to the Father in the Book of Psalms and in the Book of Revelation. Because the term “Lord” may refer to the Father or to the Son, teach our young prayer leaders to be more specific by identifying the one addressed as “Lord our Father” or “Lord Jesus Christ” and teach them to use pronouns to consistently refer to the antecedent.

No Liturgical Expression

Also, we should remember that the pronoun “your” and the phrase “… your body (blood)” are not inspired, irrevocable liturgical expressions that should dictate who is the antecedent in the beginning of our prayers. Grammatically and logically, it is wrong to establish first a pronoun at the middle of the paragraph and then be governed by that pronoun in determining your antecedent. Rather, we should teach our young prayer leaders to establish the right person we address in the prayer, use the right pronoun at the middle of the prayer, and name the right mediator at the end of the prayer. (Eusebio Tanicala)

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