Saturday, October 29, 2016

Our Father Knows: The Prayer That Jesus Taught

UPDATE (10-29-2016): Reissued today in print with several corrections.

ORIGINAL POST (03-16-2016): In the aftermath of Super Tumult, er, Tuesday, and before St. Patrick's Day sees everyone, shall we say, forgetting what St. Patrick stood for (well, hopefully not everyone), it seems like "3/16" may be a good day to publish a book, and not just any book, but a book on The Lord's Prayer. I suspect we need it — by which I mean "the Prayer" more than the book, but the book, too.

So, for those who share my conviction that we need to earnestly beseech our heavenly Father right about now — and indeed every day — let me introduce Our Father Knows: The Prayer that Jesus Taught. This short series of studies is the artifact of an adult Sunday School course I offered in early 2003. After my comprehensive exams and the submission of my dissertation proposal I had about a month before I could expect feedback on the proposal; given the chance to offer some adult ed, I thought I would try and tackle one of the chief catechetical "heads." Only once I got into it did I discover what a mammoth amount of literature there is on "the Prayer" — yes, the definite article is merited — so I pretty much stuck with first things first, namely, reading the petitions within the reverberations of the canon itself. The Foreword lists what are (to my mind) the chief secondary sources that a thorough study should take into account, if it were to venture beyond biblical study itself and into the history of Christian thought, interpretation, and preaching on the Lord's Prayer. It is quite possible I may have missed something important, especially since the recommended list of titles "For Further Reading" is admittedly light on commentaries. Including whole book commentaries would have added a level of research I did not and do not have the time to undertake, so let me refer any interested parties to the Biblical Studies department for that. All of which is to say, this was and is a quick study, prepared intensively but on the fly, without significant revision to what was first offered, despite the baker's dozen years that have since lapsed.

Perhaps you might consider using this for a Sunday school class or other adult ed event, or find in it inspiration for a sermon series on the Lord's Prayer. Sooner or later, and perhaps especially at this juncture, we need to remember the importance of catechesis, including catechetical preaching, do we not? [Where Year D is concerned, I have suggested Matthew 6:7-15 as the gospel lection for the Fifth Sunday of Ordinary Time, but I do think the petitions are well worth at least one sermon each.]

Meanwhile, for an added bonus, see the final pages where, in "An Eschatological Postscript," you will find a prayer composed of (relatively neglected) petitions, other things for and about which Jesus also said we should pray. Can you imagine what the good Lord might do if we were to actually start praying for such things?

May your faith be strengthened by this study and may those with whom you serve the Lord be well nourished by it as well. Blessings and peace in Christ to one and all.

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