Notes from The Forgotten Father, by Thomas Smail

If any of what I’ve written inspires you to read more, please, please read The Forgotten Father by Tom Smail.  I’m just including some of my highlighted text for this section on the Lord’s Prayer. I can’t do it justice but perhaps you’ll be inspired to pick this book up!

Abba is vocative; it is prayer before it is theology. There is a right theology of God’s fatherhood, but the data for it are discoverable only as we actually draw near in prayer to the Father.

The Forgotten Father

When God is called Father in Paul and the synoptics the context is most often prayer and worship, which is not surprising when we remember that the word Abba itself goes back to Gethsemane and the prayer life of Jesus that reached its climax there. And of course, this address to the Father is central and definitive in the prayer Jesus gives to his disciples. (p. 175)

The hallowed name – The first petition, Your Name be hallowed is obviously specially relevant to our subject. God’s name has been uniquely revealed to be Father and in our worship the character of his fatherhood is to be glorified and proclaimed. (p. 178)

            A man-centered religion will begin and end with confession and petition, with our own sins and need in the center. But when the center ceases to be “Lord, bless me,” and has become “Bless the Lord”, when we begin to praise God for his grace, power, and love as Father… then the name of the Father is being hallowed by being made first and central. (p. 179)

The coming kingdom – That the kingdom has come gives the Christian prayer, over against the similar Jewish one, its peculiar confidence, that it keeps on coming give is its distinctive expectation; that it will come completely as and when God decides, gives it its unique hope (p. 180)

The provided bread – “The food which God provides is food for body and soul; he gives men what they need, and he gives them a foretaste of the rich provision available in the kingdom of God.” (p. 181)

The available pardon – It is in the power of the cross that we pray this prayer for pardon, knowing that the account can be squared because the debt has been pain… Forgiveness received manifests its reality in forgiveness shared. The forgiven community is also a forgiving community among its own membership and towards its enemies outside. (p. 182)

Freedom from temptation – “Cause us not to succumb to temptation,” which gives a good and natural sense. It is in fact a prayer for sanctification for those who are on their way to holiness and find it strewn with many traps and allurements. (p. 183)

The setting of the Lord’s prayer within Luke 11:1-13 has reminded us once more that even in the synoptic teaching Christian prayer is seen as at least implicitly trinitarian. It is addressed to the Father, the way to whom is through Christ the Son who teaches his disciples to pray, and the possibility of that praying is the gift of the Holy Spirit. (p. 184)

Aghh – I have to stop here – but please find this treasure and read it devotionally!