The Lord's Prayer

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Jesus gave "the Lord's Prayer" (also referred to as the "Our Father" by Catholics and others) during his well-known Sermon on the Mount. Surprisingly, these words are recorded in only one of the gospels (Matthew 6:9 - 13). A quite similar, but not exact, version of it is recorded in Luke 11. The Matthew 6 version was given after twelve men were chosen to be apostles (Luke 6:12 - 16) and was spoken to a large and diverse crowd of people (Luke 6:17). The Luke version of the prayer was given by the Lord in response to a disciple wanting to be taught how to pray (Luke 11:1).

The Lord's Prayer in Matthew was given a short time after Pentecost was celebrated on June 1 in 27 A.D. Since Jesus' ministry began in the fall of 26 A.D., this teaching almost certainly took place during his first year of service. It likely was preached from Mt. Eremos, which is positioned near the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The mount overlooks the plain of Gennesaret, allowing Jesus' words to be heard by a large group.

This prayer is unique in that it delineates, directly from one member of the Godhead (the Lord or Son), how the other member of the Godhead (the Father) should be approached. It is also noteworthy because it was spoken in the middle of a message that, for the first time, more fully revealed the New Covenant (its requirements, blessings, etc.).

The Lord's Prayer begins with "Our Father Who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name" (Matthew 6:9, HBFV throughout). This introduction reveals that our communications with the Eternal should begin with the recognition that he not only made us but that our relationship to him is that of FAMILY. Something that is hallowed means it is Holy and pure. This verse confirms that the third commandment (Exodus 20:7) is still in force for Christians. Our desire in prayer ought to be that everyone revere and worship the Father because he justly deserves such behavior.

The Sermon on the Mount
God's three answers to prayer
Old versus New Covenant

Verse 10 of Matthew 6 states, "Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven." Believers should earnestly desire the righteous reign of God's kingdom upon the earth. We are also to pray that his perfect will, which always seeks the best outcome for everyone, is willingly carried out by humans as it is with righteous angels. Verse 11 says, "Give us this day our daily bread." This is the first request in this model prayer for something we need. When we talk to our Father, we ought to acknowledge that He makes possible every moment of our life. We always should be mindful that we are fully dependent on him.

Praying Savior
Praying Savior
Tivadar Csontvary Kosztka (1903)

Verse 12 of the Lord's Prayer tells us, "And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors." This is a variation of Jesus' "Golden Rule" teaching that states we should treat others as we would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12). In this case, we are asking God to forgive us as much as we forgive others, a principle reiterated in Matthew 18. Since we need all, not just some, of our sins forgiven in order to be saved, this request reminds us that we are to strive to possess the same merciful character as our Maker.

The last verse of the Lord's outline of a perfect prayer says, "And lead us not into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever." God is not tempted by or tempts anyone with sin. This verse encourages us to pray that our Father not allow the devil to entice us into disobedience but rather save us from his clever deceptions and destructive powers. The last part of verse 13 is the only repetition found in this section. While verse 10 recognizes the need for God's righteous rule on the earth, verse 13 acknowledges that He is the sole power source of his Kingdom and the owner of all things.

The Lord's Prayer was given as an outline regarding how we should communicate with our heavenly Father. It should not be repeated mindlessly or used like an incantation to make God give us what we want. Jesus himself warns us in Matthew 6:7 that it is useless to repeat ourselves thinking it will help our petitions. In addition, note that this prayer does NOT mention the Holy Spirit (one of many proofs the Trinity doctrine is false) and does not state we should pray to it or anyone else (e.g. dead saints like Mary, the apostles, etc.). Our relationship is directly with the Father, made possible through the sacrifice of Christ.

Additional Study Materials
Temptation versus Testing
Why do Jews offer prayer at Wailing Wall?
Did Jesus ever SAY he was God?
Should we forgive AND forget?

The Lord's Prayer

1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
Holy Bible, a Faithful Version
Strong's Concordance
Thayer's Greek Definitions

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