Lord’s Prayer According to Gospel of Matthew
Lord's Prayer is that prayer which Jesus taught his disciples as a model of how they ought to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). Many Christian denominations do not pray Lord 's Prayer because they think it is not important whereas the mainline churches recite this prayer in their worship services. There is difference of opinion about recital of the Lord's Prayer among the various denominations. Many Pastors discourage saying that it is just a model, while others propose that it is a command. Therefore, this article examines the Lord's Prayer in the Matthew's gospel and makes us understand the importance of the Lord's Prayer. It helps us to realize the significance of the Lord's Prayer and teaches the way of prayer. It also helps to teach church about the relevance of Lord's Prayer. This helps us to apply this prayer daily, with a wholeheartedly, not just as a following it as mere a model.
There is a possibility that Jesus refers to the Jewish prayer to teach his disciples on how to pray. The Lord's Prayer is very similar to the Quaddish Prayer and the Eighteen Benedictions. Quaddish is a deeply meaningful prayer that expresses and reflects the value of the Jewish people. The eighteen benedictions is title given to the central prayer which is said three times a day by all observant Jews.
We see some similarities between the Quaddish prayer and the Lord's Prayer. James D. G. Dunn reflects that, the scholarly consensus regarding the connection between the Lord's Prayer and Jewish synagogue prayers by stating that "the Quaddish is of particular interest to Christians, since it may well have been used by Jesus in formulating Lord's Prayer." In the same way Rick W. Byargeon also points out the similarities between Lord's Prayer and Quaddish prayer, stating that, The Quaddish begins with the phrase Exalted and hallowed be his great name, which parallels "Hallowed be your name in Matt 6:9. The second expression shared between the two prayers is related to the coming kingdom. The Quaddish states: May he establish his kingdom in your lifetime." This paralels the expression "your kingdom come" in Matt 6:10. Therefore, we can confirm that Lord's Prayer has some similarities with the Quaddish Prayer.
Also, in the Eighteen Benedictions, we can find some similarities with the Lord's Prayer. As Byargeon says, "According to Jewish tradition, the Eighteen Benedictions were compiled and standardized by Gamaliel at Jamnia after the destruction of the temple near the end of the l century." The Eighteen Benedictions is similar to Mt.6:11, 13. According to Byargeon, Benediction 6 is similar to Mt. 6:13 and Benediction 9 is similar to Mt. 6:11." So that we can confirm that the Lord's Prayer is has some similarities with the Eighteen Benedictions too. These evidences confirm that Jesus used Jewish Prayers to form the Lord's Prayer.
Jesus' Teaching of Prayer
We can divide the Lord's Prayer into two major sections. The first being concerned with God (6: 9-10) and the second part concerned with need (6: 11-13)." The First part's concerns with God include the worship of God and the work of God. And the second part concern of need includes the physical, spiritual and moral needs.
1. Concerned with God (6: 9-10)
This section includes the first and second petition "Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name, Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
1.1 Father in Heaven, Hallowed be your name (V9)
The prayer starts with addressing God as the Father which shows an intimate relationship between the Father and Son. Craig S Keener, states about the relationship of God the Father and the Son as one that denotes both respectful dependence and affectionate intimacy. The Father Son relationship is intimate as well as informal. By bringing the Father and Son relationship, Matthew points to a different conception of the nature of prayer from Judaism, because no Jews ever addressed God as their father. But differ from Jewish customs Jesus said we can call God as our father.
The next saying is "Hallowed be your name. Hallowing God's name is a regular practice for Jewish community. Keener says "Hallowing God's name was a characteristic feature of Jewish ethics. Jesus brought this line because the Jews should understand that when they pray they should sanctify God's name. It is a unique privilege for God's people to sanctify God's name when they pray at any time at anywhere.
1.2 Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven (V 10)
Your kingdom come is the next clause in the Lord's Prayer. We are glorifying God with this clause as well as confessing God as our King. Generally, the Kingdom of God means wherever God is present, His Kingdom will be there. The phrase, Your Kingdom come means, there is one opposite meaning that our present Kingdom should leave. If God's Kingdom comes in our lives, God should be the King in our life. He decides what we does. As a Christian, we should recognise that Jesus is our king. Derek Prime says "As Christians we acknowledge the Lord Jesus to be our King.When we realise Jesus is our king, His Kingdom will also come to us.
"Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, is the next part of the Lord's Prayer. This part clearly says that in Heaven, God's kingship is already established; the same should be happened on earth. This is the essence of God's Kingdom. As R.T France states, "In heaven (among the angels) God's name is already honoured, his kingship acknowledged, and his will done, and the prayer is that this heavenly state of affairs may also be reflected on earth." It should be our prayer that like in heaven, God's kingship acknowledged, the same will happen on earth or in our lives. This is the way Jesus taught us to pray. It should be happen now a days in this problematic world.
2. Concerned with need (6: 11-13)
This section includes the last three petitions, such as Give us today our daily bread, And
forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from the evil one.
2.1 Give us today our daily bread (V. 11)
Food is one of the basic need as well as the physical need of a man. It is a great privilege that we can depend God for this physical concern. Charles Price says "It is right and legitimate that we acknowledge our dependency on God for our daily needs, not taking them for granted, but asking in humility for our daily bread." With these words, we acknowledge that God can give our daily needs. God can provide what we need today, He know our daily needs.
2.2 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (V.12)
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors' is the spiritual need of a man. As Christians, we should cleanse ourselves daily in the presence of God. Here the word 'debts' means 'sins'. MacArthur says "Opheilema (debts) is one of five New Testament Greek terms for sin." We should ask forgiveness from our sins to God everyday just as we ask for daily bread. At same time we should also forgive others emphasis this aspect more since God's forgiveness is based on the past action we have already forgiven our debtors.
2.3 And lead us not into temptation, Deliver us from the evil one (V.13)
As a moral need, we can ask God to deliver us from the evil one. Price quotes a quotation from epistle James is that, "if one is tempted, don't say that 'God is tempting' (James. 1:13). According to him, we need to understand the source from which the temptations are supplied, so this is the main force of the Prayer, asking deliverance from the temptation which are given by evil." This points that temptations will be there but if we have strength to resist the effect of temptations, it will help us to keep ourselves from committing sin.
Looking in to the teachings of Jesus on prayer in gospel of Matthew it is sure that one should not vainly repeat this prayer just as Gentiles does. Jesus taught how to pray and that should be our attitude towards prayer. Both the concern with God and the need is important in human's life. We should glorify God as well as we have to pray for our physical, spiritual and moral needs. Many of the churches are not using the Lord's Prayer now a days. Many people are irritated when they hear about Lord’s Prayer because of their wrong understanding, especially the Pentecostals. They blindly believe that Lord’s Prayer is only for non-Pentecostals. Some of them are thinking that it’s just a model showed by God how to pray. The words in Lord’s Prayer is very meaningful for all Christians. Therefore, it is very much essential for us today that whenever we pray we must always look into the scripture and the teachings of Jesus on prayer mentioned in the scripture, so that our prayer can be acceptable before God.
Each word is very important in this Prayer. Starting from the concern with God and ending with concern of needs. The Lord’s Prayer helps us to avoid the repetitive prayer like the hypocrites. The words like ‘Father,’ ‘hallowed,’ ‘kingdom,’ ‘heaven,’ ‘daily bread,’ ‘forgiveness,’ ‘debts,’ ‘temptation,’ etc., have deeper meaning in this prayer. I wish it is our practice that our prayer should be like what Jesus taught.
Pr. Prince M Samuel
Carmel Prayer Center