A Layman Looks At The Lord’s Prayer, by W. Phillip Keller
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Like many people, I am familiar with the appealing rhythm and cadence of Matthew 6:9-13 and find it a frequent area of my own personal spiritual reflection and study . In this deeply insightful book, dedicated with proper affection to the author’s “humble layman” father, the author writes a thoughtful study on the Lord’s Prayer–using the familiar version in Matthew–and adds a great deal of context to help revitalize what can be vain repetition in the mouth of many believers. This book does such a good job that it made me greatly curious about the author’s other layman’s looks at various scriptures. Parts of this book have the same sort of grandeur and moving nature of, for example, Nouwen’s eloquent discussion of the Parable of the Prodigal Son(s) , and anyone whose writing can evoke Nouwen’s passionate discussion of God’s paternal love for humanity is definitely doing something worthy of commendation. The author’s honesty about the nature of mankind at times is bracing, but for those who are willing to view the Word of God as a mirror into our dark souls will find a great deal of insight here.
In a bit more than 150 pages, the author divides the Lord’s Prayer into twelve chapters. The first chapter deals with God as our Father. Then the author turns to a discussion of the Kingdom of Heaven and the glory of life after the inauguration of the new heavens and new earth. The author then discusses the importance of reputation in the hallowing of God’s name. The fourth chapter looks at the desire for God’s kingdom to come, viewed in an almost amillennial way through the workings of believers in bringing people into contact with a little bit of the Kingdom of Heaven through their own lives. After that the author looks at God’s will in an expansive sense, as well as the prayer that things be on earth as they are in heaven. The next three chapters tackle the subject of God providing us with our daily bread through divine providence as well as a recognition of the forgiveness of our debts that we receive from God and our solemn obligation to forgive others for their offenses against us and overcome the grudges that we have against them. The last three chapters look at God not leading us into temptation, but instead delivering us from evil, and what it means for the kingdom, power, and glory to be God’s forever.
Although this book is aimed at laymen, this book is has a broader applicability. Indeed, those who are ordinary believers can grasp this book–it contains no difficult discussion of esoteric theological terms–but the book has much broader application. Indeed, this book, given the author’s skill in finding relevant cross-reference material to the language of the model prayer, can serve as an inspiration to sermon speakers who can find a great deal of material in order to serve their congregations in a message or a series of messages on the subject. As a resource book that is of use for both lay members and ministry alike on a subject of widespread interest and that tackles subjects of great importance in our own spiritual lives and our struggle against sin, the corruption within ourselves, and the blandishments of Satan and his demons, this is a book that should find itself a place in many bookshelves. It has certainly earned a well-regarded place on my own crowded bookshelves.
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