Building the Minister’s Library: The Lord’s Prayer
John G. Bales
The Lord’s Prayer has played an important role in the life of the church. Its place in the liturgical life of the church is well established and documented by historians from the early church to the present. Catechetical authors found it essential to address the prayer as a means of expressing Christian faith. Many theologians throughout the centuries have seen a need to exegete the prayer. But what does the Lord’s Prayer mean and what are its implications for the life of the church? Where, if at all, does the Lord’ Prayer “fit” into the church’s life today? Below is a list of books which address these questions. The list of books range in their purpose, some exegetical while others are homiletical. They also range historically, from the patristic period to contemporary times. Needless to say, I have neglected a whole selection of commentaries on Matthew and Luke which could have been included.
Calvin, John. John Calvin: Writings on Pastoral Piety. Ed. with translations by Elsie Anne McKee. New York: Paulist Press, 2001. Contains a handy exposition of the Lord’s Prayer, as well as several of Calvin’s own prayers. Of course, Calvin is brief and precise in his exegesis.
Cyprian's De Dominica Oratione. The Lord's Prayer, tr. Roy J. Deferrari. New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc. 1958. A true churchman writing an encouraging treatise on how the church can pray.
Jeremias, Joachim. The Prayers of Jesus. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978, c1967. Jeremias is one of a few Bible scholars who has done solid exegetical work on the term “Abba” and on the Lord’s Prayer as a whole. See also Kenneth Bailey’s Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes.
Johnson, Terry. When Grace Comes Alive: Living Through the Lord’s Prayer. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2003. A godly Presbyterian pastor, performing a basic pastoral function, teaching his people to pray from the Lord’s Prayer. How refreshing.
Lohmeyer, Ernst. The Lord’s Prayer. Trans. John Bowden. London: Collins Publishing, 1965. Lohmeyer was a New Testament scholar in Germany during the first half of the twentieth century. His life’s story is fascinating. This work is a major monograph.
Ryken, Philip Graham. When You Pray: Making the Lord’s Prayer Your Own. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006. One of the perennial questions that ordinary Christians have is how a “set” prayer, like the Lord’s Prayer, can be meaningful to them. Ryken, as the title suggests, teaches Christians how this ancient prayer can become their personal prayer.
Saphir, Adolph. The Lord's Prayer. New York: Gospel Pub. House, 1890. Under the ministry of Scottish Presbyterian missionaries, his entire family converted from Judaism to Christ. Once ordained he delivered these series of lectures to his congregation. The book went through at least thirteen editions.
Tertullian De Oratione. On the Prayer, tr. Ernest Evans. London: S.P.C.K. 1953. His work lays the foundation for future theologians in the patristic period.
Ursinus, Zacharias. The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism. Trans from the original Latin by the Rev. G. W. Williard. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1852, pp. 619-659. Ursinus’ comments help unpack the Catechism’s teaching on the Lord ’s Prayer.
Watson, Thomas. The Lord’s Prayer. Banner of Truth Trust, 1972. Watson was a first-rate preacher who pastored amidst civil strife. He knew what it meant to pray “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.” His exposition represents some of the finest Puritan theology, filled with zeal and grounded in Scripture. If you are a pastor, you should own this.
Witsius, Herman. The Lord’s Prayer. Escondido, CA: The den Dulk Foundation, 1994. A lengthy “dissertation” by a trusted theologian, grounded in Reformed theology.