‘Our Father’: The Lord’s Prayer and Living as Spiritual Sons and Daughters of God
BOOK PICK: ‘Thy Kingdom Come: Living the Lord’s Prayer in Everyday Life’
THY KINGDOM COME
Living the Lord’s Prayer in Everyday Life
By Father Jeffrey Kirby
TAN Books, 2020
176 pages, $16.95
Every wonder how many Our Fathers you have prayed during your life? If you’ve said it daily, maybe several times a day since you were a child, that adds up well into the ten thousands of times — for some, hundreds of thousands. There’s really no reason to think of the number, unless you’re starting to read Thy Kingdom Come.
Then you might ask yourself, “In all that praying, have I ever really taken time to think what the first two words mean?”
Father Jeffrey Kirby shows readers what those two words — “Our Father” — really signify for our spiritual lives and how the other seven tenets, or principles, of the Lord’s Prayer relate.
“The Lord’s Prayer contains a spiritual portrait of Jesus’s entire life,” Father Kirby writes. “He reveals how we are to live as a spiritual son or daughter of God. Whenever we pray it, therefore, we should always remember that we pray it through, with, and in Jesus.”
As the seven tenets, plus different facets of the faith related to them, unfold chapter by chapter, readers understand more and more why Father Kirby explains, “[W]e are loved, cared for, forgiven, accepted, led, fed, delivered, and embraced by a father who has called us his own. And we, for our part, need to become comfortable calling God our Father, our heavenly Dad. He’s given us permission. He’s called us his sons and daughters. Now, we need to trust him, open ourselves to him, follow his ways, and allow him to work in our souls. We have to let him be our Father. We have to welcome his fathering — his loving kindness — into our daily lives.”
Father Kirby explains in easy-to-understand terms what the seven principal parts of the prayer mean and how they show us how to live our life in a way pleasing to our heavenly “Dad.”
The author eases into each tenet in a conversational way, by starting each chapter with a personal story that lays the groundwork for the explanations to come: for instance, a moving story about what happened to a priest saying Mass during World War II or a tale of the drama in the life of an adopted teenager. These true stories become universal parables for each particular tenet, or principle, of the Our Father that they introduce.
In the chapter on the tenet “forgive us,” Father Kirby shines light on mercy and justice, showing there is nothing scary about that “justice” word. “Mercy,” likewise, becomes an eye-opener.
Throughout the book, Father Kirby brings his experience as a pastor, vocation director and author of several books. In fact, several stories stem from personal experience.
In addition, Father Kirby underlines each revelation with a reference to the Catechism. And each chapter includes a “Living as We Pray” section that offers examples of how we are to live each tenet, such as when one “decides to swallow his pride and extend the hand of repentance and reconciliation.”
An “Examination of Conscience” section then follows, as does a “School of Discipleship,” in which Father Kirby shows through each tenet what particular gift of the Holy Spirit goes with it, as well as each gift’s corresponding virtue and beatitude and the capital sin that can make us lose our way. He adds a short prayer, often some related quote or section from Scripture, and offers “Three Truths on Being Led by God.”
The book’s aim overall is to help readers grow in communion with God the Father.
Before the Our Father in every Mass, the priest says, “At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say …,” emphasizes Father Kirby. “It is indeed bold to call God our Father; that is why we ‘dare’ to call him this. Who are we, poor sinners, to call him Father? And yet the Lord Jesus affirms this boldness. In giving us this prayer, he uses the plural pronoun our, and so indicates we are together with him in God’s family. As the Lord is the Son of God by nature, so we become sons and daughters of God by grace. As adopted sons and daughters, we are also siblings to the Lord Jesus and so heirs with him in glory.”