William Tyndale’s Prayers
William Tyndale (Tynsdale, Tindall, Tindill, Tyndall; c. 1494 – c. 6 October 1536) was an English scholar who became a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation in the years leading up to his execution. He is well known as a translator of the Bible into English, influenced by the works of Erasmus of Rotterdam and Martin Luther.
We have collected some of the best William Tyndale’s Prayers to use in request to God. May these prayers for safety bring you comfort and peace of mind. May these prayers for strength encourage your spirit and strengthen your faith.
William Tyndale’s Last Prayer
William Tyndale passionately believed everyone in England—from the King to the servant—should have access to the Bible. A scholar who could speak Hebrew and Greek, he was one of the first people to actively fight for freedom for the masses to read the Bible for themselves, to let God’s Word speak to them personally rather than through the voice of the local priest.
He was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and was found guilty and condemned to be burned to death, despite Thomas Cromwell’s intercession on his behalf. Tyndale “was strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned”. His final words, spoken “at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice”, were reported as
“Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes.”
The traditional date of commemoration is 6 October, but records of Tyndale’s imprisonment suggest that the actual date of his execution might have been some weeks earlier. Foxe gives 6 October as the date of commemoration (left-hand date column), but gives no date of death (right-hand date column). Biographer David Daniell states the date of death only as “one of the first days of October 1536”.
Within four years, four English translations of the Bible were published in England at the king’s behest, including Henry’s official Great Bible. All were based on Tyndale’s work.
William Tyndale’s The Lord’s Prayer
“The sinner prays the petitions of the paternoster, and God answers by the law, as though He would put him from his desire. The sinner acknowledges that he is worthy to be put back, but nevertheless, faith cleaves fast to God’s promises and compels Him, for His truth’s sake, to hear the petition. Mark this well and take it for a sure conclusion: when God commands us in the law to do anything, He commands not therefore that we are able to do it, but to bring us unto the knowledge of ourselves, that we might see what we are and what a miserable state we are in, and to know our lack, that thereby we should turn to God to acknowledge our wretchedness unto Him, and to desire Him that of His mercy He would make us what He bids us be, and to give us strength and power to do that which the law requires of us . . . .The office of the law is only to utter sin, and to declare what miserable damnation and captivity we are in. Is it not a miserable, yes, a fearsome and horrible damnation . . . , when our very hearts are so fast bound and locked unto the power of the devil that we cannot once as much as consent unto the will of almighty God, our Father, Creator, and Maker?”
Tyndale writes that we should elaborate upon the Lord’s Prayer like this:
The Sinner: Our Father who is in heaven, what a great space is between Thee and us. How therefore shall we, Thy children here on earth, banished and exiled from Thee in this vale of misery and wretchedness, come home to Thee into our natural country?
God: The child honors his father, and the servant his master. If I am your father, where is My honor? If I am your lord, where is My fear? (Malachi 1). For My name through you and by your means is blasphemed, railed upon and evil spoken of (Isaiah 52).
The Sinner: Alas, o Father, that is true. We acknowledge our sin and trespass. Yet be Thou a merciful father, and deal not with us according to our deservings, neither judge us by the rigorousness of Thy will, but give us grace that we may so live that Thy holy name may be hallowed and sanctified in us. And keep our hearts, that we neither do nor speak, no, that we not once think or purpose anything but that which is to Thy honor and praise, and above all things make Thy name and honor to be sought of us and not our own name and vain glory. And of Thy mighty power bring to pass in us that we may love and fear Thee as a son his father.
God: How can My honor and name be hallowed among you, when your hearts and thoughts are always inclined to evil, and yes in bondage and captivity under sin, moreover seeing that no man can sing My laud and praise in a strange country (Psalm 136).
The Sinner: O Father, that is true. We feel our members, yes, and also our very hearts, prone and ready to sin. And that the world, the flesh, and the devil rule in us, and expel the due honor of Thy holy name. Wherefore we beseech Thee, most merciful Father, for the love that Thou hast unto Thy son Christ, help us out of this miserable bondage, and let Thy kingdom come, to drive out the sin, to loose the bonds of Satan, to tame the flesh, to make us righteous and perfect, and to cleave unto Thee, that Thou only may reign in us, and that we may be Thy kingdom and possession, and Thee obey with all our power and strength, both within and without.
God: Whom I help, them I destroy. And whom I make living, safe, rich and good, them I kill, condemn and cast away, make them beggars and bring them to nought. But so be cured of me, [and] you will not suffer (Psalm 77). How then shall I heal you, yes, and what can I do more? (Isaiah 5).
The Sinner: That is to us great sorrow and grief, that we can neither understand nor suffer Thy wholesome hand. Wherefore help, dear Father, open our eyes and work patience in us, that we may understand Thy wholesome hand and also patiently suffer Thy godly will to be fulfilled in us. Furthermore, though Thy most wholesome cure be never so painful unto us, yet go forward therewith, punish, beat, cut, burn, destroy, bring to nought, damn, cast down unto hell, and do whatsoever Thou will, that Thy will only may be fulfilled and not ours. Forbid, dear Father, and in no wise suffer us to follow our own good thoughts and imaginations, neither to prosecute our own will, meaning and purpose. For Thy will and ours are clean contrary one to the other, thine only good (though it otherwise appear unto our blind reason), and ours evil (though our blindness see it not).
God: I am well served and dealt withal, that men love me with their lips and their hearts are far from me, and when I take them in hand to make them better and to amend them, then run they backward, and in the midst of their curing, while their health is aworking, they withdraw themselves from me, as you read (Psalms 77). Conversisunt in die bell;. They are turned back in the day of battle, that is to say, they which began well and committed themselves unto me, that I should take them in hand and cure them, are gone back from me in time of temptations and fulfilling of the flesh, and are returned to sin and unto dishonoring me again . . . .
The Sinner: O Father, have mercy on us, and deny us not that bread of love. It grieves us sore, even at the very root of our heart, that we cannot satisfy Thy words and follow it. We desire thee, therefore, to have patience with us, Thy poor and wretched children, and to forgive us our trespass and guilt, and judge us not after Thy law, for no man is righteous in Thy presence. Look on Thy promises. We forgive our trespassers, and that with all our hearts, and unto such hast Thou promised forgiveness—not that we through such forgiveness are worthy of Thy forgiveness, but that Thou are true, and of Thy grace and mercy have promised forgiveness unto all them that forgive their neighbors. In this Thy promise, therefore, is all our hope and trust.
God: I forgive you often and loose you often, and you never abide steadfast. Children of little faith are you. You cannot watch and endure with me a little while, but at once fall again into temptation (Matthew 26) . . . . I am righteous and right in my judgment, and therefore sin cannot go unpunished . . . .
The Sinner: For as much, then, as adversity, tribulation, affliction and evil which fight against sin give us temptation, deliver us out of them, finish Thy cure and make us thoroughly whole, that we, loosed from sin and evil, may be unto Thee a kingdom, to laud, to praise and to sanctify Thee. Amen. And seeing that Thou hast taught us thus to pray, and hast promised also to hear us, we hope and are sure that Thou wilt graciously and mercifully grant us our petitions, for Thy truth’s sake, and to the honoring of Thy truth. Amen.
Finally, some man will say haply, “What and if I cannot believe that my prayer is heard?” I answer, “Then do as the father of the possessed did in the 9th [chapter] of Mark, when Christ said unto him, ‘If you could believe, all things are possible unto him that believes.’ The father answered, ‘I believe, Lord help my unbelief,’ that is to say, heal my unbelief and give perfect belief and strengthen the weakness of my faith and increase it.”
By William Tyndale
This is borrowed from Christian History
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #16 in 1987]
William Tyndale’s Prayer of the Sinner
Luther’s 1519 “Enflamed Dialogue,” based on the Lord’s Prayer, with Tyndale’s 1526 translation and revision as the “Prayer of the Sinner”
Luther’s “Enflamed Dialogue” was apparently translated into French the same year of its appearance in Germany, and then put into poetry by the sister of the King of France, Marguerite de Valois. The following is Tyndale’s Introduction to this unique prayer, as it appeared in his 1526 commentary on Romans (as did apparently the “enflamed dialogue” of Luther):
“Here follows a treatise (to fill up the leaf with all) of the Lord’s Prayer, very necessary and profitable, wherein (if you mark [it]) you shall perceive what prayer is and all that belongs to prayer. The sinner prays the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, and God answers by the Law, as though he would put him from his desire. The sinner acknowledges that he is worthy to be put back, nevertheless faith holds fast to God’s promises, and compels him, for truth’s sake, to hear his petition. Mark this well and take it for a sure conclusion, when God commands us in the Law to do anything, he commands not therefore, that we are able to do it, but to bring us unto a knowledge of ourselves, that we might see what we are and in what miserable state we are in, and know our lack. That thereby we should turn to God and to acknowledge our wretchedness unto him, and to desire him that of his mercy he would make us that [which] he bids us to be, and give us the strength and power to do that which the Law requires of us. Note this also, that prayer is nothing else save a mourning of the spirit, as the sick [person] mourns and sorrows in his longing after health.
“And unto prayer is required the Law and the gospel, that is to say the promises of God. The office of the Law is only to utter sin and declare what miserable damnation and captivity we are in. Is it not a miserable, yea a fearful and horrible damnation and captivity we are in? Is it not a miserable, yea a fearful and horrible damnation we are in, when our very hearts are so fast bound and locked under the power of the devil, that we cannot once as much consent unto the will of almighty God, our Father, Creator, and Maker: yea and yet see not this so great, so sharp, so cruel, and terrible vengeance of God upon us, until the Law come.
“The Law brings a man unto the knowledge of himself, and compels him to mourn, to complain, to sorrow, to confess, and to acknowledge his sin and misery, and to seek help. The Gospel entices, draws, and shows from whence to fetch help, and binds us to God through faith. Faith is the anchor of all health and holds us fast to the promises of God which are the sure Law—neither works neither yet any other things can quiet a man’s conscience, save only faith and trust in the promises of God. Faith suffers no wind, no storm, no tempest of adversity or temptation, no threatenings of the Law, no crafty subtlety of the devil to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. That is to say, to make us believe that God loves us not in Christ and for Christ’s sake. Prayer is the effect and work of faith, and the spirit through faith prays continually with mournings passing all utterance of speech, confessing and acknowledging here grievous bondage, here lack and weakness, and desiring help and succor. Now do you see that there is not so great a distance between heaven and earth, as between prayer and mumbling a pair of Matins or mumbling ‘Our Father’s’ and honoring God with the lips.
“I pass over with silence, how without all fruit, yea how with terrible ignorance the lay and unlearned people say the ‘Our Father’ and also the ‘[Apostles] Creed’ in the Latin tongue. Moreover, they never pray which feel not the working of the Law in their hearts, nor have their consciences shaken and bruised, and as it were beaten to powder with the thunderbolt thereof. Consider and behold yourself therefore diligently as in a mirror and then come and confess your sin, your lack and poverty unto God without all manner of feigning and hypocrisy, mourning and complaining over your horrible damnation, bondage, and captivity, and with strong faith pray God to have mercy on you for Christ’s sake, to fulfill his promises, to give his Spirit, to release you, to strengthen you, to fulfill all his godly will in you, to pour the riches and treasure of his spiritual gifts on you, and to make you such a one as his heart has pleasure and delight in. And above all things desire him to increase your faith, and pray after the manner and example of this treatise here following.”
A special prayer as we commemorate the life and death of William Tyndale
Almighty God, you planted in the heart of your servant William Tyndale a consuming passion to bring the Scriptures to people in their native tongue, and endowed him with the gift of powerful and graceful expression and with strength to persevere against all obstacles: Reveal to us your saving Word, as we read and study the Scriptures, and hear them calling us to repentance and life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.