Posted by: rcottrill | September 17, 2012

The Lord’s Prayer

Words: The Lord Jesus (Matthew 6:9-13)
Music: Albert Hay Malotte (b. May 19, 1895; d. Nov. 16, 1964)

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (none)

Note: There have been various settings of the Lord’s Prayer. The Cyber Hymnal has one by Lowell Mason. But perhaps the best known is Malotte’s, published in 1935. It was written for famed operatic baritone, John Charles Thomas. This version has been used ever since as a solo piece, often at weddings. However, in more recent times several hymn books have included it. Albert Malotte and his dramatic setting for the Lord’s Prayer is discussed in the Wordwise Hymns link, and there’s a further link there to a post about Mr. Thomas.

Luke’s account informs us of a request one of the disciples made of their Master. He said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1). In response, Christ gave them what we call “The Lord’s Prayer,” though it could more precisely be labelled the disciples’ prayer, as it was for them. It is found, in slightly different forms, in both Matthew and Luke. (Likely to writers refer to two different occasions when the prayer was taught.) The former version reads:

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts [our sins], as we forgive our debtors [those who sin against us]. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:9-13).

In many churches, a version of this prayer is recited week by week. That is fine, as long as we realize several things.

First, great as it is, the prayer is incomplete. It was given before the cross. There is nothing in it about the salvation purchased for us at Calvary. Nothing about the church born on the Day of Pentecost. And no indication of the later instruction to pray “in Jesus’ name” (Jn. 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24).

Second, it was not given as a prayer to recite verbatim, but as a suggested pattern for prayer (“after this manner”). No one in the New Testament ever prays the prayer. It is intended to show us the kind of things to be addressed in the prayers of Jesus’ followers. To simply recite the prayer as a formal ritual might even constitute “vain repetitions” which the Lord forbids in the context (Matt. 6:7).

Third, such a prayer can be offered legitimately only by a child of God, a born again believer with a right to call Him “Father.” The unsaved are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). We only have the right to call ourselves God’s children through faith in Christ, and by the new birth (Jn. 1:12-13).

The prayer begins with an attitude of worship, expressing the desire that God’s name (His Person) be honoured, and that the Messiah’s kingdom would be set up on earth. There follows a request that God would meet daily needs, as well as a prayer for protection from the devil’s attacks. God’s forgiveness from sin is sought, and the petitioner states his readiness to forgive those who wrong him.

The ending of the prayer (Matt. 6:13b) is not found it some modern translations of the Bible. (This is unfortunate, since of five hundred ancient codices that contain the prayer, only five omit it.) But even if the ending of the prayer is questioned, it is certainly biblical. Similar sentiments are voiced in a prayer of David’s:

“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all” (I Chron. 29:11).

With the understanding that other things need to be included, the passage provides a helpful guide for our own prayer lives.

Questions:
1) Should non-liturgical evangelical churches be using the prayer more than they do? (Why? Or why not?)

2) How might this study of the Lord’s Prayer affect your own praying in the future?

Links:
Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal (none)


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