Gooder grammar teached here

13 04 2011

Well, how else could I have enticed you to read something about grammar – and Greek grammar at that.  But now you’re here…

Apparently in Greek grammar there is what is called a “middle voice”.  In his book The contemplative pastor, Eugene Peterson explains, and links his grammar lesson to prayer.  Here’s what he says –

“My grammar book said, ‘The middle voice is that use of a verb which describes the subjects as participating in the results of the action.’  I read that now, and it reads like a description of Christian prayer – ‘the subject as participating in the results of the action.’  I do not control the action…I am not controlled by the action…I enter into the action begun by another, and find myself participating in the results of the action.” 

Jesus didn’t see a contradiction between praying and action – he spent many hours in prayer, and many hours teaching, healing and meeting human needs.  The early church prayed for guidance about caring for the widows in their midst, and then appointed people for the task so that others could concentrate on praying; they prayed about controversy that had arisen between Jews and Gentiles, and then formed the Council of Jerusalem to work out the answer.  Paul prayed for these early churches, and he also wrote to them and visited them.  There was a true partnership.

That makes prayer a bit scary.  It sounds like God may expect me to be the answer to my prayers.  I can’t get away with praying for the lonely person but not going to visit, or praying that my friend will be able to cope with her new baby if I don’t take her toddler out for a bit or make the family a meal.  You get the idea?

 “Prayer is co-operation with God, a consent that opens the way for grace to work.” Philip Yancey

This idea of being participants with God is found in the writings of Paul in the New Testament.  Here are four examples –

  1. “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
  2. “For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
  3. “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20)
  4. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10)






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