Takeaway: We are actually supposed to be praying the Lord’s Prayer.
I grew up reciting the Lord’s Prayer as part of worship. I have no idea when I memorized it, but it was probably when I was very young. About 10 years ago a friend published a book about the Lord’s Prayer (Living Prayer: The Lord’s Prayer Alive in You) that changed my approach to the Lord’s Prayer.
Since that time I regularly pray the Lord’s prayer, both simply and straight through and as a guide, expanding each line as a prayer prompt.
I have read a few books on the Lord’s Prayer since then, but most I thought were not particularly helpful. NT Wright’s The Lord and His Prayer is not new (written in 1995) and while there are a couple of editions of it that are slightly different all are less than 100 pages. I listened to the audiobook (2 hours) during a round trip to a meeting last night. As with many books on prayer, I should probably reread it again in print.
The format of The Lord and His Prayer is exactly like Ben Myers’ excellent book on the Apostles’ Creed, a line by line exploration. NT Wright is both a scholar and a pastor. And what I really appreciate about his writing is that he is always pastoral in tone. He is writing about the Lord’s Prayer because he thinks it is an important part of our lives as Christians. He wants us to understand what we are praying and the context of historic Christianity that has used the prayer historically as well as the historic 1st century culture when the prayer was originally taught.
The main themes of Wright’s work more generally are present here even though this was written before many of his better known books. He wants the reader to understand the proper role of eschatology (the end times) in regard to how we live our lives today as Christians (like his Surprised by Hope). He places the authority of scripture and the Lord’s Prayer not as independent authority, but because those words are from God himself (Scripture and Authority of God). And Wright is focusing on the Lord’s Prayer as a tool and practice of discipleship (After You Believe).
NT Wright also has an excellent chapter on the Lord’s Prayer in his book Simply Good News: Why the gospel is good news and what makes it good news. But there is little overlap in material between that chapter (which focuses on how the order of the prayer orients us to understanding what the gospel is really about) and this book which is a line by line exploration of the prayer. But both are well worth reading because both are oriented around right theology and right practice of discipleship.
Right now the audiobook is the cheapest way to get this book. The Kindle book is linked, but not available for purchase in the US right now. The paperback is not super expensive, but it is not much more than a long pamphlet. I think this would work well as a discussion book for a small group, in the paperback version there are six chapters of about 12 pages each.