Vol. 8, No. 1
~ Page 5 ~
Recently, a sister in Christ asked why members of the church do not recite Matthew 6:9-13:
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
In the religious world, this is referred to as the "Lord's Prayer." In answer to this question, a few observations appear below.
First, the prayer taught by Jesus was given as an example of how to pray, not a verbatim list of what to pray. In the parallel passage of Luke 11:1, Jesus is asked to teach his disciples to pray. He then gives them the classic example that the New KJV of the Bible calls the model prayer. It is called this because it represents a pattern of things to pray. These things are best summed up by the acronym ACTS: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. What Jesus was teaching is that when we pray, we should express our love for God, confess our sins to him, give thanks to him and make our requests to him.
Second, Jesus himself warned us against mindlessly repeating any prayer in Matthew 6:7 "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." It is absolutely amazing how many religious people are unaware of the instructions of the Lord on this matter! Vain repetition refers to saying something over and over with little or no thought. This admonition is right before the giving of the model prayer in the Scriptures, and yet many continue in their vain repetition of the "Lord's Prayer."
Third, the model prayer contains one request that has already been granted. Matthew 6:10 says 'Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.' The kingdom is already here. Why would we continue to pray for something we have already been given? If we prayed for the end of abortion in America, and that prayer was granted, would we continue to ask for its end, or give thanks that it had ended? To show that the kingdom is present, consider the following passage:
And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:16-19)
Jesus refers to the kingdom and the church as the same organization in the passage above. Peter, in fulfillment of the promise of Jesus, preached the first sermon opening the kingdom to the Jews in Acts 2 and to the Gentiles in Acts 10. And what happened when he opened the kingdom? They were baptized and added to the church!
Fourth, Christians are to pray through the authority of Jesus, or in his name. It puzzles some people in the world why a Christian's prayer is closed with the phrase "in Jesus name, Amen." That puzzlement is cleared up by what Jesus said in John 16:23-27.
And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.
Jesus presents a clear change in the way they prayed before this instruction and the way they (and we) are to pray now.
In conclusion, it is a mistake to refer to Matthew 6.9-13 as the "Lord's Prayer." Jesus prayed a great deal, and some of those prayers are recorded for us in the Scriptures. But remember, what Jesus said about the model prayer was "when you pray." If there is any passage of Scripture that can be singled out as the prayer of our Lord, it probably should be John 17, the entire chapter. This Scripture is sometimes called the "High Priestly prayer" of our Lord. In this prayer, Jesus prays for unity among his followers. Are we seeking what Jesus wants? Unity can only come from obeying the commands of Jesus, and the vain repetition of the "Lord's Prayer" is not obeying Christ's teaching on how to pray.