Author Justo L. Gonzalez takes readers on an historical retrospective of the Lord’s Prayer, from Jesus’ introduction of the prayer in the gospel narratives to the reflections of the early church fathers—Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen, Augustine, and Chrysostom—and to its implications for the lives of Christians today.
According to Gonzalez, how the ancient church understood the prayer “will help us understand not only the Lord’s Prayer but also the gospel and all of life.” He points out that the prayer Jesus taught his followers serves as a model for all our prayers. However, he adds, that doesn’t mean believers can use the prayer “like a magical formula to receive from God whatever we wish nor that there is any particular value in repeatedly mouthing it without even thinking about what we are saying.”
Gonzalez’s narrative, which includes questions for reflection and discussion, is a valuable resource for Christians who want to understand what the Lord’s Prayer means for our lives today. This passage sums up the book’s reflections:
“We have said, ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ and thereby we are committed to behave in a way that sanctifies and glorifies God. We have said, ‘Thy kingdom come,’ and thereby have committed ourselves to live according to the values of the kingdom. We have said, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,’ and thereby we have committed to place God’s will above ours. We have said, ‘Give us this day our daily bread,’ and thereby we are committed to trusting God for our sustenance and not to take the sustenance of others. We have said, ‘Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,’ and thereby are committed to forgiving our enemies and those who offend us. We have said, ‘Lead us not into temptation,’ and thereby we have confessed our own weakness and affirmed our commitment to resist temptation with God’s help. We have said, ‘But deliver us from evil,’ and thereby are committed to living according to the glorious freedom of the children of God. And now we reaffirm all of this with a firm ‘Amen,’ which means not only ‘let it be so’ but also ‘it is thus’ and ‘thus it shall be’ with God’s help.” (Eerdmans)