Our Father; approaches to the Lord’s Prayer

Why another book on the Lord’s Prayer? The title of the book in French is Approaches to Our Father; Daniel discusses the setting and overarching themes of the prayer, rather than the details. This is not to say that there is nothing said about individual phrases, but that these elements emerge incidentally; thus there is, for example, particularly powerful insight into forgiveness.

There are two settings for the Lord’s Prayer. The first is Luke, where it is given as a response to a question from a disciple on how to pray, and here Daniel stresses our great need to be taught — our great need, our poverty. The second is in Matthew, where Jesus gives the background to private prayer, in our chamber with the door shut — and, wonder of wonders, God is there! So the focus is on this humble generosity of God. A third chapter points to the overall scheme of the prayer, starting with heaven and ending with evil or the evil one, and so points to the incarnation of Jesus, coming down from heaven to engage with our troubled world and the reality of our sin. In typical fashion, the book closes with the observation that there is no ‘Amen’ stated in the text — in his engagement with sin, it is Jesus and he alone who is and can give the true Amen. This is one of the shorter of Daniel’s books, and packed with power.