The Lordâ€™s Prayer is a prayer given by Jesus to his followers. It is found in different versions in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4. The version in Matthew is longer, consisting of an address and seven petitions. It is embedded in the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus instructs his followers in doing the â€œgreaterâ€ righteousness, which means to be whole-hearted in doing Godâ€™s will as interpreted by Jesus. This passage of scripture is called the Lordâ€™s Prayer because Jesus gave it to the disciples as a pattern for their prayers.
Acts of pieties that express the greater righteousness are alms giving, prayer, and fasting. Such acts are to be performed in worship of God, however, and not for public show. As an example of how his disciples should pray, Jesus recites the Lordâ€™s Prayer, which is devoid of the â€œempty phrasesâ€ and â€œmany wordsâ€ that characterize the prayers of the Gentiles. It is not wrong to come to God many times with the same requests â€" Jesus encourages persistent prayer, but he condemns the shallow repetition of words that are not offered with a sincere heart. Here, the Lordâ€™s Prayer is a model that the disciples are to approximate in formulating their own prayers.
â€œThis, then, is how you should pray:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come, your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven,
Give us today our daily bread,
Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.â€
The phrase â€œour Father in heavenâ€ indicates that God is not only majestic and holy, but also personal and loving. The first line of this model prayer is a statement of praise and a commitment to hallow, or honor, Godâ€™s holy name. The phrase â€œyour kingdom comeâ€ is a reference to Godâ€™s spiritual reign, not Israelâ€™s freedom from Rome. Godâ€™s kingdom was announced in the covenant with Abraham, is present in Christâ€™s reign in believersâ€™ hearts, and will be complete when all evil is destroyed and God establishes the new heaven and earth. When people pray â€œyour will be doneâ€, they are not resigning themselves to fate, but praying that Godâ€™s perfect purpose will be accomplished in this world as well as in the next. â€œGive us today our daily breadâ€ acknowledges that God is the sustainer and provider. It is a misconception to think that people provide for their own needs. People must trust God daily to provide what he knows they need. God does not lead people into temptation, but sometime he allows people to be tested by them. The Christian should pray to be delivered from these trying times and for deliverance from Satan and his deceit. Jesus also tells his people that if they do not forgive each other then he will not forgive them. Godâ€™s forgiveness of sin is not the direct result of the Christian forgiving each other, but it is based on realizing what forgiveness means.
Many Christians believed that is was necessary to pray elaborate beautiful prayers where everyone can hear them and admire what they had said. Even today, the Christian has the tendency to get caught up in what their prayers sound like to others and the desire to impress other people. The Lordâ€™s Prayer is Godâ€™s message to his followers that he prefers the humble and quiet prayers that are sincere and private. In fact, he tells his believers to go into a closet to pray so they can make sure that they do not get caught up in trying to impress other believers or even God.
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