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 …

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