Thursday, December 06, 2007

Book Review: The Lord and His Prayer by N.T. Wright

Book Review: The Lord and His Prayer by N.T. Wright
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Main Overview: Wright approaches the Lord’s prayer from a missional perspective. This book is not only a great aid to prayer ministries but also care and share ministries. Wright draws out how praying each aspect of the Lord prayer invites us to receive from the father but also join in his mission of taking his kingdom to others. “Jesus is the musical genius who wrote the greatest oratorio of all time; we are the musicians, captivated by his composition ourselves, who now perform it before a world full of muzak and cacophony (disharmony).” (p. 30)

Critique: This book is a bit philosophical where some practicality on prayer could have gone a long way. This would be my only critique. It might leave some thinking, “wow - great stuff - challenged me - obviously written by a brilliant scholar but what are the practical steps of growing to pray more like Jesus?”

I was personally very blessed by this book. It reminded me that the text we are the most familiar with have much more to teach us. It did a great job of exegeting the passage without going over anyone’s head. Wright wonderfully brought a historical-grammatical approach that connected each line of the Lord’s prayer to the day and culture of Jesus.

I believe this book offers much to the local church. It offers hope that Jesus work is still very much going on and the father desires us to receive his ministry, expects us to join His work and empowers us for it as well. It doesn’t softplay sin and it doesn’t beat up sinners but calls us to wash our hands and come eat with the father. It also does much to bring unity, “It is a prayer that should both undergird the ecumenical movement and remind us daily of the need to be reconciled within our own communities.” (p. 59)

Chapter Overviews
Chapter one and two reminds of that there is still much to learn from the Lord’s Prayer. Wright relates all aspects of prayer to the Exodus of Israel. The Lord freed Israel from bondage but there was still work to do to reach the promise land. In the same way the father desires for his kingdom to come and to be established after Jesus broke us out of the prison of sin. Prayer is the father’s method because it not only invites the father to act but encourages us to join the work of establishing the kingdom. The term “father” in the first phrase of the prayer should be understood in light of the 1st century role of father as mentor to his child apprentice. We are learning to do the father’s work.
Chapter three points out that we should not jump too quickly to praying,” give us our daily bread.” The father desires and expects us to look to him for our daily needs but prayer should center on what the father is doing and the role he calling us to play. Our spiritual needs and physical needs are represented by the “bread” and like every verse of this prayer we must keep in mind that the father meets our needs so we can meet the needs of others.
Chapter four focuses in on “forgive us our debts.” This prayer ends with the statement that our being forgiven is dependent on forgiving of others because this is the very heart of the kingdom. If we can’t forgive then we have never understood THE point of Jesus coming - we’ve never really joined his mission. Wright also strives to help us find the balance between confessing our sin and beating ourselves up for our sin.
Chapter five points out we can pray for and be delivered from evil because Jesus wasn’t. He broke the enemies power over us through suffering and death. We can enter evil and deliver others out through his power. We must also be mindful of the evil in us.
Chapter six points out that phrase, “thine is the kingdom the power and the glory forever is not in any of the earliest manuscripts but something like this would surely have ended a 1st century prayer. In addition, this phrase completes the thought that God is establishing his kingdom for his glory.

Caleb Plumb
Preacher, Encounter Christian Church, Cedar Rapids IA

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1 comment:

Raffi Shahinian said...

Brother Plumb,

This was an edifying review and I appreciated your perspective. I'm a huge fan of Dr. Wright's and have learned much from his work, although I admit I have yet to read "The Lord and His Prayer." One response that I would make to your comment about the lack of practical application of Wright's work, one that I think he would point out as well, is that Wright is the type of theologian and pastor who likes to give us the tools to understand the "big picture" of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ and then have us work out the "practical applications" for ourselves, mainly because those practical applications will be unique for each individual saint. I personally believe that's what Jesus himself was doing during His earthly ministry by the use of parables.

In any event, like I said, I very much enjoyed your review. Your readers might also find the following article an interesting read if they can't get around to reading the entirity of "The Lord and His Prayer" (or as an impetus for doing so):

The Lord's Prayer as a Paradigm of Christian Prayer

Grace and Peace,
Raffi Shahinian