Living the Lord’s Prayer
BRF, Oxford, 2002, £6.99
(price at publication of review)
Reviewed May 2003; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2003
Peter Graves is a chaplain to university students and Minister of Wesley Methodist Church in Cambridge, so is well qualified for his objective: to write for study groups of those interested but little or not church-oriented; and to promote faith-sharing among ‘ordinary Christians’.
His introduction points up the present climate of the search for spirituality in a changing world, where the fallibility of reason and technology as saviours in a world of disaster is causing many to look deeper for answers or at least for courage and strength for this life’s journey. He believes that people find it possible to move from the familiar - in this case the Lord’s Prayer - in order to explore their own faith, understanding and meaning.
In setting the context, Graves quotes from younger days the advice that prayer does not have to be understood to be engaged with, any more than an intimate knowledge of the mechanics of a car is necessary to driving it. We pray; and it becomes an ongoing relationship with God that touches the whole of life. This is his theme. He quotes Anthony Bloom, “......a whole way of life is expressed in the form of a prayer”; and invites the notion of the relationship of God with us as that of one who loves and wants us to be free, not of one who demands our duty and service.
Next, we learn of the need in all to go through “wilderness” times and suffering as we come to grips with our deficiencies and failings. These “toughen us up”, bringing faith in Christ and growth; since we can only know “the power of his resurrection” if we know first “the fellowship of his sufferings”. The movement from faith to experience brings us further into the living relationship with God in Christ, and to changes in our life which witness to faith. Graves quotes from Nietsche: ‘Show me you are redeemed and I will believe in your redeemer.’
There is nothing simplistic about this book. The author does not baulk at questions of the validity of belief in a loving God despite evil, of gender issues, responsibility and witness, guilt and forgiveness, transformation, intercession, or the now-but-not-yet nature of the reign of God. We are reminded of the constant need for renewal and nourishing in Christ and in the Spirit. While there is perhaps nothing startlingly new here, it is nevertheless a timely reminder, easy to read, and with a wealth of quotations, prayers and suggestions for further study, individually or in a group.
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