The Lord’s Prayer or Disciple’s Prayer?
Most Christians are familiar with what is known as the “Lord’s Prayer.” At the church, I attend it is recited every week, and of course, the words are posted on the screens for everyone to see. As the congregation recites the prayer I asked myself, do most of us know the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer? Has it become a mindless set of words we know by heart and can recite from memory at any time? With that said, I want to dedicate a few posts to really looking at what we call the Lord’s Prayer. What do these verses mean?
The Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6: 9-13. I will be using the KJV Bible version since we are probably most familiar with the words.
“After this manner, therefore, pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on 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, forever. Amen.”
The Lord’s Prayer is part of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus is teaching to a great multitude that has gathered to hear him preach. In Chapter 6 beginning in verse 5 Jesus begins to teach about prayer. He tells the crowd not to be like the hypocrites and always pray out loud just to draw attention to themselves. They are just seeking the admiration of people and they have the wrong motives. Jesus is not forbidding public prayer, it is the motive behind their prayers he is condemning.
Most bodies of believers practice corporate prayer on a regular basis, it is the attitude or motive for our prayer that is important. One book I was reading pointed out that it is ironic that Jesus calls people out on public prayer when the Lord’s Prayer is, without doubt, the most-often-repeated-without-meaning passage in the Bible. People will recite it without reverence or knowing what it means. This is the Disciples’ Prayer as the Lord never prayed for forgiveness of his sin since he was sinless and could forgive sin himself. He was teaching his disciples how to pray, a model they should use.
Here is the beginning of verse 9 in several different versions or translations of the Bible:
• “Pray, then in this way” (NASB)
• “Pray like this” (NLT)
• “Therefore, you should pray like this” (CSB)
• “Pray like this” (ESV)
• “In this manner, therefore, pray:” (NKJV)
The Bottom Line
As the text shows, this was just a model Jesus gave us to pray by, it was never meant to be a substitute for our personal prayers. God is a personal God, he wants our heartfelt prayers and admiration expressed to him, not just something we recite off the top of our heads. Use the Lord’s Prayer to be a model your own personal prayers, do not let it become a substitute for them.
David Bryan MTS, MDIV