It’s been a little while since I read something by today’s author, trystain owain Hughes. His The Compassion Quest was a really helpful book that motivated me in a pursuit of justice and was arguably quite a formative book for me. The book I’m reviewing today I read in one sitting – with what I would mostly call breathless enjoyment. Living the Prayer: The everyday challenge of the Lord’s Prayer is a new little book from BRF that explores and unpacks the Lord’s Prayer. I should note at the outset that I was fortunate to receive a free review copy of this book.
Peppered with quotes from across and otiside the church (some of my more evangelical friends may struggle with some of the pictures and implications) this boook is one that would work well as a devotional to go deeper into the Lord’s Prayer, or as a book to read about the Lord’s Prayer and Prayer in general, or as a very helpful bank of quotes and ideas to mine if preaching or writing baout Prayer.
Tristan works through the prayer line by line, thought by thought, over _ chapters. Throughout the book there is an expert blend of what I would call a passion for the lord prayer and an encouragement and celebration of prayer more generally. Throughout, as one might expect from someone who has both written about justice and marinated deeply in the Lord’s Prayer, there is the throbbing beat of justice. Rooted in the ministry and teaching of Jesus, and amplified with a smorgasbord of biblical references and historical and filmic illustrations, I think you cannot read this book without feeling a serious nudge to the pattern of prayer and justice as being intimately intertwined. How seriously do we mean ‘thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven?’
The final thing I would want to say about this book is it’s beautiful and integral language of the Kingdom of God. Often-times traditional prayers ignore this fundamental theological concept – so it is important to stress that Jesus invites us to pray ‘thy kingdom come’. Trystan paints a beautiful picture of the Kingdom of God, breaking in and just out of reach. He is particularly focused on the justice aspect of the Kingdom – the book is littered with calls to action and protest, against the way things are – but some of the most moving writing has to do with how we experience the Kingdom of God in brokenness and pain. This emphasis alone is well worth dwelling on in a church culture that often glosses over the reality of brokenness, or ignores the immediacy of the Kingdom when things don’t go quite to plan.
Overall, then, I really enjoyed this book. There were a few eyebrow raising moments – hints of a multi-faith emphasis – but mostly this is an excellent book in the tradition of powerful, prophetic, prayerful writing on the Lord’s Prayer. I hope it receives a wide readership – and that it inspires more people of passion to pray, and more prayerful people to consider that their actions, out of obedience to the King, might be a way of seeing prayers answered and the Kingdom coming.