Seeing the Lord Behind the Lord’s Prayer
Wesley Hill shows how each petition points to the character of Christ.
It can be a challenge to say the Lord’s Prayer sincerely these days. Living in a modern industrialized society where food is processed, packaged, and abundant, do we honestly desire daily bread?
If you set out to craft a prayer at odds with contemporary Western values, you could not do much better than the Lord’s Prayer. The seven petitions that Jesus taught his disciples to pray (Matt. 6:9–13) run against the grain of our culture at every turn. It’s strange to plead “Thy kingdom come” while living in a country that long ago rejected monarchy in favor of popular sovereignty. It’s dissonant to confess “Thy will be done” in an age that celebrates autonomy and self-determination. Jesus confronts us with a subsistence prayer in a culture of affluence, a commitment to forgiveness in the face of outraged polarization, and preservation from temptation in a landscape defined by desire and indulgence. The Lord’s Prayer challenges our notions of what’s truly desirable; and that’s precisely the reason we need it so desperately.
In The Lord’s Prayer: A Guide to Praying to Our Father, Wesley Hill walks us through the seven petitions, inviting us to discover the meaning, vitality, and relevance of each phrase. Any author writing on an ancient prayer may feel pressure to unearth some previously undiscovered truth, but Hill offers a fresh reading that feels less like an archaeological dig than a tour through a living cathedral in which he himself worships. His approach emphasizes the One revealed through the prayer—Jesus Christ. “Jesus embodies and enacts the prayer He taught His followers to pray,” Hill writes. “Each petition of the Lord’s …