Bushmen’s Prayer

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by Mike Wild on May 18, 2017

It has been so amazing to see the tribal church blossom. Not too long ago, many of my friends (who are now mature Christians) were sacrificing their pigs and chickens to evil spirits, chopping off their newborn children’s fingers for spirit appeasement, executing women accused of witchcraft, and many other sad and unfortunate things. They did all of this in fear of the evil spirits who ruled their world.

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Today, so much has changed since many have understood and embraced the good news of Jesus Christ. Nowadays, I love to hear the prayers of my bushman friends. The grammar and discourse patterns of the tribal language are very different from English, and it is neat to see how they come at things from a different angle. If some of you are multi-lingual, maybe you know this feeling.

One of the things I love most about the bushmen’s prayer is that when asking God for something (safety on the trail or recovery from a sickness) they pray with a certainty that God has already (even though not yet) done what they are asking. This can’t be done well in English, but here is an example below.

Ninyova o.
Our Father.
Nit ne, tu nu nigak,
We, the trail as we go,
Kat ne ndegenicamun o yak,
You (certainly) guarding us so that
wa yokiguerik o.
thank you we are saying.

A clearer reordering for an English translation would be something like,

“Our Father, as we are going on the trail, so that You will be certainly guarding us, we are thanking you.”

Now if we (in the West) wanted God to protect us as we went on a journey, I think we would pray something like, “Father God, please watch over us as we travel.” We are asking the same thing, but without the confident expectation that God hears us and has “already done it.”

Another neat thing about the bushmen’s prayer is how they end it. In English, we end our prayers saying, “Amen,” but many of us don’t even know the meaning of amen. We just blindly say it out of tradition. We never taught our tribal friends to say “amen” at the end of their prayers. Instead we taught them the meaning of amen, which is “may it be” or “let it be so!” So, when a tribal believer ends his prayer, he says,

“Our Father, as we are going on the trail, so that You will be certainly guarding us, we are thanking you, and let it be!”

Missionary life is often fraught with many hardships and trials, but to live among a people who now love God and trust Him with such certainty is truly a precious treasure that offsets the difficult times and makes us truly thankful that God has chosen this life for us.

*The views expressed by the Wild family are their own and not necessarily those of Answers in Genesis.

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