Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Boreham on The Lord's Prayer

I am grateful to Bill Merriweather for suggesting the posting of this excerpt on a passage that is so familiar—The Lord’s Prayer:

“It is a wonderful prayer, a masterpiece of spiritual architecture. It reaches from earth to heaven, and stretches away through the eternities. It seems to begin at a little child's bedside. Our Father—Father —FATHER! It gradually climbs up until it achieves its climax in a blaze of that glory that no man can approach unto: ‘For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory.’ And then, like a river plunging into the ocean, it loses itself in the infinities: ‘For ever and ever.’

Within the compass of the Lord's Prayer one seems to meet with people of all kinds, classes, and conditions. I stand within the hush that its solemnity inspires, and, all at once, I hear the sound of many voices.

I hear a Child talking to his Father, a Worshipper offering homage to some hallowed Name; a Patriot sighing for the expansion of a kingdom, an Optimist expressing his confidence that all the earth shall become subject to the heavenly will, a Mendicant craving bread, a Penitent imploring pardon, and a Pilgrim feeling himself to be on a perilous path, and crying for direction and deliverance.

For the beauty of it is that the Lord's Prayer is Everybody's Prayer. The Master Himself taught it to His disciples; it was theirs. In Tissot's exquisite painting, ‘The Lord's Prayer,’ we seem to have seen Him, with His fishermen grouped around Him, as He teaches them, sentence by sentence, the noble petitions. The prayer became their prayer, the prayer of warm-hearted Peter and of the beloved John; but it was not theirs alone. It is the prayer of the devout, but it is also the prayer of the depraved. It is the prayer of the man who deplores the rebellion of his own heart: ‘Our Father, Thy will be done! Thy Kingdom come!’ It is the prayer of the man who realizes that his soul is defiled with an indelible stain: ‘Forgive our trespasses!’ It is the prayer of the man who feels himself to be shuddering on the brink of a terrible abyss, the sinner who is afraid of becoming a bigger sinner still: ‘Deliver us from evil!’

It fits us all. It may be lisped by the little child at his mother's knee; it may be groaned by the criminal in the condemned cell. Within the sanctuary of the Lord's Prayer there is a place for each of us, a place that we each feel to be peculiarly our own. For the Lord's Prayer is Everybody's Prayer.

That was the discovery which so surprised and delighted Thomas Carlyle. He is over seventy, tortured by insomnia. But, writing to his old friend, Thomas Erskine of Linlathen, he tells of an experience that has greatly refreshed him:

“The other night, in my sleepless tossings about, which were growing more and more miserable, that brief and grand prayer came strangely into my mind with an altogether new emphasis, as if written up and shining for me against the black bosom of the night, where I read it word by word, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy will be done.’ It brought a sudden check to my fevered wanderings, a sudden softness of composure which was completely unexpected. I had never felt before how intensely the voice of man's soul that prayer is; the inmost aspiration of all that is highest and best in poor human nature.”

“The voice of man's soul! The inmost aspiration of our nature! Carlyle is right.

The first instinct of our physical nature is to reach out blind hands in search of an earthly mother; the first instinct of our spiritual nature is to reach out blind hands in search of a Heavenly Father: ‘Our Father, which art in heaven.”

F.W.Boreham, A Temple of Topaz (London: Epworth Press, 1928), 37-39

Image: The Lord’s Prayer by Tissot, 1899.