Teachings/Prayer/Lord's Prayer, The
Introduction and Background
The Lord's Prayer is the prayer that the Jesus taught to his disciples in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Details below:
|Gospel Reference||Matthew 6||Luke 11|
|Contexts||Located in the sermon on the mount on the topic of prayer (given to a large crowd).||One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.|
|Pre-texts||“This, then, is how you should pray:"||"He said to them, 'When you pray, say:'"|
|Additional Notes||Matthew's version is the longer version that has been widely used in Christian church liturgies. Some bible translations include the closing doxology as well. See the traditional our Father prayer here (Liturgy/Lord's Prayer, The)||This prayer is immediately followed by The Parable of the Friend at Midnight (one of the three parables on prayer that are only recorded in the gospel of Luke).|
The Structure of the Lord's Prayer
The Lord's prayer consists of an invocation and six petitions and a closing doxology. Many of the concepts in this outline originally appeared in The Universe in 57 Words, by Carolyn Arends and have been abridged and adapted below.
Our Father, who art in heaven...
II. Six Petitions:
a. GODWARD (1-3) (Your Name, Your Kingdom, Your Will)
(1) Hallowed be thy name... (on earth as it is in heaven)
(2) Your kingdom come... (on earth as it is in heaven)
(3) Your will be done... (on earth as it is in heaven)
b. MANWARD (4-6) (Our Daily Bread, Our Debts/Debtors, Our Deliverance)
(4) Give us this day our daily bread
(5) Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors
(6) And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
III. Closing Doxology
For yours is the Kingdom, Power, & Glory (forever, Amen)
Invocation - Our Father, who art in heaven...
In the invocation, Christ has taught us to address God as Our Father dwelling in the heavens. Viewing God as a perfect father strengthens us to have confidence in His active care for us. This child-like confidence lays the foundation for child-like asking.
In the six petitions that follow, we are able to ask according to our needs trusting that the Father above will give good gifts to His children.
Hallowed be your name
It is important to note that this is actually a petition—a request for something that can only be accomplished with God. Here we are asking God to hallow his own name. In the Hebrew tradition, a person's name represents their character. Thus, in this petition we are asking God, "Make Your name Holy in all the earth." We are also recognizing our calling to praise and reverence His divine majesty as He is praised and reverenced in Heaven.
We can view the next five petitions as the primary strategies of God to make His name Holy on the earth. Namely, by releasing His kingdom through and among His faithful followers.
- Praying the Names of God: Prayers/Names of God
Your Kingdom Come
Jesus began His earthy ministry with the announcement that "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has drawn near; repent and believe the good news." (Mark 1:14-15). When we look back at the unfolding revelation of God in the old testament, we see that this kingdom storyline is woven throughout. In creation we see God's intention to co-rule the created order with humanity as His regent Kings. Later, after the fall, God sets apart the Jewish people under His rule meditated by prophets forming a theocracy. Eventually, His people reject Him in favor of a monarchy. This rebellion and unfaithfulness continued to spiral downward leading to Israel's captivity and exile. It is at this point that prophetic literature foretells in the coming of the Kingdom of God that will fulfill God's covenant promises. This leads us to Jesus Christ the messianic King through Whose life, death, resurrection, and ascension has claimed victory over the diabolic forces and reclaimed humanity's authority to rule with God over the earth thus inaugurating a Christocracy that will one day be consummated upon His return (or second coming).
When we ask for the Kingdom of God to come, we are joining in the work of Christ's intercession (see Hebrews 7:25), who is asking the father to "Give him the nations as His inheritance." (see Psalm 2:8)
Ways this petition is realized (biblical examples):
- Ministry of the Word and the Spirit in POWER: To "[taste] the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age." —Hebrews 6:5
- BOLDNESS to be a prophetic witness to Christ: "And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” See Acts 4:23-31
- Praying for kingdom advancement can often become sensationalized and self-serving (example: seeking miracles for the sake of miracles).
- Even as we ask for God's blessings and heavenly resources in this petition, we should remember that God is a father first and and a king second, therefore we should never put the gifts before the giver. Although we are called to seek his face, as well as his hand. The order matters here, because intimacy precedes fruit-bearing. Our first and foremost calling is to be in intimate communion with God, only from that place should we expect that we can fully surrender our lives to see his kingdom reigning in and around us.
Recommended Exercise (Intercessory Prayer):
- Spend some time reading and praying Paul's Apostolic Prayers from the New Testament.
Your will be done
- Palms up, Palms down Prayer (coming soon...)
Give us this day our daily bread
It is at this point that the prayer moves from a focus on the glory of God to the petitions for our ordinary day-to-day necessities. It can be a trap to forget our nature, that though we share in the divine image we are also made of dust. Here we are taught that must not become too spiritual as to despise our animal nature that has a multiplicity of wants and needs. The true mark of the spiritual life is to discern correctly between wants and needs through prayer and our daily walk.
What is Daily Bread?
There are perhaps two parallels to this petition in the Old Testament. First of all and most prominent is the story in Exodus 16:19-36Where the Lord miraculously provided manna from heaven. This regular provision of manna was sufficient only for that day and if they gathered more than they needed the bread became rotten the next day (except on the sabbath when were instructed to gather extra food on the previous day). This was meant to teach the Israelites to depend on God's provision, not their own. The second reference in the old testament closely parallels these concepts and is found in the form of an oracle in Proverbs 30:7-9 (NIV)
“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God."
Contextual Clues (from the Sermon of the Mount) In Matthew's gospel, the Lord's Prayer is soon followed by a brief discourse rebuking anxiety over temporal concerns such as food and clothes in Matthew 6:25-34.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? ...So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
The closing doxology in the Lord's prayer was not included in most of the earliest gospel writings but is found in writings of the Church as the 2nd-century, appearing in the Didache. The doxological addition was most likely a part of the oral tradition in Christian worship. The content is similar to 1 Chronicles 29:11 a traditional Jewish doxology.
|Matthew 6:13b (KJV)||1 Chronicles 29:11 (ESV)|
|For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.||Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all.|
- The Universe in 57 Words, by Carolyn Arends:
- A seven-day devotional that is both highly accessible and highly insightful drawing from some of the best ideas around on the topic and providing ideas for practical application.
- The Lord and His Prayer, by N.T. Wright:
- A short, accessible commentary on the Lord's prayer that primarily highlights how the original hearers might have understood this prayer through the historical Jewish context.
- The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life In God, by Dallas Willard:
- a monumental literary work that has revolutionized the contemporary understanding of Christian concepts such as Spiritual Formation and Discipleship.
- Luke 11:1
- Matt. 6:9 (NIV)
- Luke 11:2 (NIV)
- The traditional practice of adding a closing doxology at the end of the Lord's payer (from the Gospels) is also found in the "Didache" (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles), a first-century manual of morals, worship and doctrine of the Church. Also, when copying the Scriptures, Greek scribes sometimes appended the doxology onto the original Gospel text of the Our Father, however, most texts today would omit this inclusion, relegate it to a footnote, or note that it was a later addition to the Gospel. Official "Catholic" Bibles including the Vulgate, the Douay-Rheims, the Confraternity Edition, and the New American have never included this doxology.
- Dallas Willard explains that for the biblical writers, heaven is close. The “first heavens” is a term used to describe the earth’s atmosphere. So when Jesus describes the invisible realm that God inhabits, he lets us know it’s not only “out there,” but also as near as the atmosphere surrounding our bodies. The Universe in 57 Words (Page 20).
- see Matthew 7:11 and Luke 11:11