Review: Ain’t Too Proud to Beg

This book by Telford Work is subtitled “Living through the Lord’s Prayer.” As the subtitle suggests, it is a book about the Lord’s Prayer. I found it to be a completely unexpected approach to the Lord’s Prayer.

It was not formulaic, providing simplistic applications for this familiar prayer. Rather the book shows how our views and perspectives can be continually shaped and formed by the kingdom lens of this prayer. Using examples of social, political, global issues of our times, the author explains how our views are shaped by our own cultural stories and demonstrates how Jesus’ words give these same issues a kingdom context.

Following the outline of the prayer, I will attempt to share a few thoughts. Keep in mind that these few sentences can in no way capture the depth of ideas covered in each chapter, but hopefully they will give you a taste of the vast extent to which the author looks at the prayer’s impact and influence.

Our Father in Heaven

Jesus prays this prayer with us, declaring God is our Father and demonstrating that His incarnation has achieved the fatherhood of God over all His children, making us heirs, insiders, members of His family.

Let Your Name Be Held Holy

Wonderful thoughts in this chapter about holiness, describing it as a relationship based upon the love and faithfulness of God and His gift of bridging the distance in the relationship. Holiness is not a degree of relative purity, but rather the distinction of a people with whom the Son shares His holiness.

Your Kingdom Come

This was probably my favorite chapter. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us to look at life from a kingdom perspective. “The Lord’s Prayer makes the fundamental question not how Christians should be involved in the world, but how Christians should be involved in the kingdom.” The chapter is an incredible description of the nature of the kingdom, the reality of the reign of God, and the defining character of new creation. Christ, who put His entire trust in the fulfillment of God’s purposes, is our pattern. Likewise, we go into the world focused with “apostolic patience” to announce the kingdom has already arrived.

Your Will Be Done On Earth as It Is in Heaven

This was a really challenging chapter about how the church engages with the world to accomplish God’s redemptive purposes. “The will of the Father is none other than the Holy Spirit.” When we pray for the Father’s will to be done on earth, the answer is not just spiritual gifts or fruit, but the Holy Spirit himself. Jesus has realized the Father’s will in both heaven and earth. He empowers us to be fellow reconcilers by His indwelling Spirit.

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread

This chapter contained a lot of interesting thoughts about money, wealth, and the economy. It is about provision and sustenance. Jesus calls this our daily bread, “what we need now to see us through to the very end.” God reframes wealth and provision according to our relationship as heirs in His kingdom. “The greatest blessing that an heir can receive is…the benefactor’s authority and virtue.”

Forgive Us…As We Forgive

In the world, our relationships are organized according to power and status. The kingdom reorders our relationships through forgiveness and reconciliation. Rather than two separate statements, these must be viewed as parts of a whole. We reconcile our relationships through the forgiveness that has been granted to us. As we pass along the Father’s grace, we become co-redeemers in extending the kingdom.

Do Not Lead Us into Temptation, Rather Deliver Us from the Evil One

Opening the chapter with a discussion about evil, the author explains how this statement of the prayer is to prepare us for the evil we will inevitably encounter as the kingdom of God confronts darkness. With Jesus as the prophetic pattern of endurance through trial followed by deliverance, we also have the promise of deliverance even as we are prepared for the possibility of enduring trouble.

Throughout the book, the author demonstrates the Lord’s Prayer as a process wherein we acclimate ourselves to God’s agenda. It joins and fuses the purposes of heaven and earth. The prayer is not a rote practice, but rather a dynamic expression that we live through, that shapes and transforms us, and that we then express in our lives.


9 thoughts on “Review: Ain’t Too Proud to Beg

  1. Wow, this sounds very promising. I will have to add it to my wish list. I have been drawing lessons from the Lord’s Prayer for my book on St. Francis & his missional example. This fits perfectly. Thanks, Grace!


  2. Grace,

    Scot McKnight blogged through this book a while back. And I’ve been working through this as I work through both “40 Days Living The Jesus Creed” and “Praying With The Church” — both by Scot.

    This is very much about seeing ourselves squarely in the midst of the Kingdom and part of a Body rather than as individuals.

  3. I always worry about if I give a fair representation of a book. Obviously I have focused on some of my favorite aspects of the book.

    It wasn’t a book I would necessarily have chosen for myself. It wasn’t an easy read, but I felt like it both challenged and taught me, and in the end, I was glad to have read it.

    Jeff, I’d love to hear how the book “killed you.”

  4. Grace:

    I think that the book was very different than what I was expecting. I read the book to go with the confirmation class. We were doing the Lord’s Prayer.

    It may be a book that I have to go back to but I tried a few times and for some reason, I just could not wrap my hands/mind around the book and connect. It was just *blah* for me.

    This was a disappointment for me because I was excited about reading it.

  5. Jeff,
    Thanks for responding. It certainly wasn’t a typical prayer book, and it was very different than what I expected also. It’s not likely that I would recommend it to very many people because to be honest, I think many would agree with your impression.

    While I wouldn’t necessarily say that I enjoyed reading the book, I believe that I benefited from what I learned and from being stretched beyond what I might typically read.

    The emphasis on the kingdom context of the Lord’s prayer was my favorite thing about the book.

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