A transforming vision — the Lord’s Prayer as a lens for life
Christian Focus Publications
192 pages, £8.99
Though books on the Lord’s Prayer are legion, this one enters the arena with an original slant.
From the Church Fathers to the likes of J. I. Packer, treatments of this subject have tended to be prolonged comments on prayer as a spiritual exercise. Some stand out because written in a crucible, such as those of Luther and Calvin. This particular one also holds its own, though not because it is a ‘how-to’ manual.
William Edgar is professor of apologetics at Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia. He has also taught at the Reformed Seminary in Aix-en-Provence, in France. His comments on the prayer have a decidedly continental slant, but are, above all, apologetic.
Prayer and Christian living are linked together, functioning like two walking poles pushing us onward in the Christian pilgrimage. This makes the book very lively.
Time and again, we see how prayer is not just a private spiritual exercise, but is related to the nitty-gritty of daily life. Prayer spurs us on to practical Christian involvement in current issues, including thornier ones such as reconciliation and poverty.
Prayer implies worldview and encourages practical action. ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, says the author, ‘is indeed a transforming vision. Not only is it a worldview that sees the world right-side-up. But it is a prayer, thus a way of life, that brings transformation. Praying it sincerely will sanctify us, will renovate us, will make us people better able to glorify, but also to enjoy God forever’ (p.191).
Such a perspective is needed to encourage us to more seriousness in prayer, whoever we are. It would also be a fine thing if it motivated preaching and Bible study on the subject in evangelical congregations.
Prayer is something too often taken for granted. Edgar repeatedly stresses that we need instruction, discipline and structure in prayer, because they are too often absent in public and private exercise.
The author comes from a tradition where the Lord’s Prayer is used in public worship. Perhaps in reaction to Anglican practice, many an evangelical congregation has thrown the baby out with the bathwater, neglecting use of this prayer.
For this reason, it is rather a pity that a chapter on the use of the Lord’s Prayer in public worship was not included as an antidote to some of the free vocalisation that goes under the name of ‘prayer’ today.