18 May C.S. Lewis Commentary on the Lord’s Prayer
C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963) was a novelist, poet, and academic, who is well known for his work The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis also wrote extensively on topics related Christianity, including miracles and the problem of pain—the most famous work in this genre being The Screwtape Letters.
Baptized in the Church of Ireland, Lewis fell away from his faith in his teens. However, he returned to Christian beliefs while on the faculty of Oxford, being persuaded by the arguments laid out by G. K. Chesterton in his book The Everlasting Man (Read Online), as well as those of his his Oxford colleague and friend J. R. R. Tolkien. One of our favorite quotes of Lewis involves the goal of teachers: “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”
Among the Progressive Christian works that C.S. Lewis wrote was an interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer—which appears in his book “Letters to Malcom”. Lewis’s reading is more orthodox than the Living Hour’s commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, but certainly one that many Christians can gain insight and inspiration from.
Our Father Prayer Interpreted by C. S. Lewis
Jesus taught us to address God where he is, that is, in heaven and not yet here on earth. The Father wants to be here and will be here when heaven and earth unite. In the act of prayer God unveils himself to us and so we are to unveil ourselves to God. We begin prayer where we are. If we are sad, we begin sad. If we are angry, we begin angry. There is no use trying to pretend we are not these things and to begin by adoration if we are not in that place.
Hallowed be your name …
When we bless God we do so in unison with all the hosts of heaven. “The consoling thing is that while Christendom is divided about the rationality, and even the lawfulness, or praying to the saints, we are all agreed about praying with them. ‘With angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.’”
Your kingdom come …
Your kingdom come here on earth and in my life as I see it at work in the sinless world, that is, in the birds that do not worry or the flowers that care not for what they will wear. Your kingdom come here on earth and in my life as I see it in the lives of the living saints, those men and women who reflect most accurately the image of God. Your kingdom come here on earth and in my life as it is heaven, that is, looking into heaven to see how things are done and asking that they be done that way even now.
Your will be done … on earth as it is in heaven …
Your will be done on me and through me. Help me to submit to your blessings and to your discipline. Help me develop the mind of Christ. Help me to see daily the kingdom tasks set before me and to set about doing them.
Give us to day our daily bread …
“I expect we all do much the same with the prayer for our daily bread. It means, doesn’t it, all we need for the day – ‘things requisite and necessary as well for the body as for the soul.’”
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us …
Forgiving in the moment is the not the real difficulty. We can all do that. The real struggle comes with continually forgiveness. “How many times must I forgive my brother? Seven times?” Jesus said, “Not seven, but seventy times seven.” As we remember the sins of others wrought against us we can at the same time see those same sins in our own lives. We expect forgiveness for those so too we must grant forgiveness for those.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil …
Temptations are not merely temptations to sin; they include struggles, trials, tests and the like. What Jesus is really teaching us here is something akin to asking God to make our paths straight. In other words, we are asking here of God to not grant anything we have just prayed for if it will trip us up.
To read some inspirational quotes about the Lord’s prayer from famous figures through history, including Napoleon and Aldous Huxley, please go to: Lord’s Prayer Quotes.