WHAT ABOUT RECITING THE “LORD’S PRAYER”?

Wayne S. Walker

Question:  “What does the Bible say about reciting the ‘Lord’s Prayer’?”

     In Matthew 6.9-13, Jesus said, “In this manner, therefore 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 this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  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.”  This os often
referred to as “the Lord’s Prayer,” although that term is not found in
the scriptures and is somewhat of a misnomer, because it is actually a
model prayer that Jesus was using to teach His disciples, rather than a
prayer that He was actually praying Himself to the Father.

     In fact, on another occasion, in Luke 11.1-4, Jesus’ disciples asked
Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples,” and
Jesus used almost the same words to respond to their request as He did in
the sermon on the mount.  In some denominational churches, it is a common
practice for the whole assembly to recite the Lord’s prayer in a worship
service.  Also, many individuals believe that they must repeat “The
Lord’s Prayer” from time to time in various circumstances.  But when
Jesus said, “In this manner, therefore pray,” He was not telling His
disciples to repeat this specific prayer, word for word, but to use it as
a model or guide as they themselves pray to the Father.  It is
interesting that when we have record where the disciples came together
for prayer in the first century, they did not just repeat what is often
referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer” (see Acts 4.23-31).

     Simply reciting the so-called “Lord’s Prayer” would not be a
complete fulfilment of the many commands to pray.  It is right to pray
for people by name and for specific situations (Epheisans 6.18-20, James
5.16, 3 John 2).  Neither of these would be found in a mere repetition of
the words that Jesus used to teach His disciples to pray, nor would such
a prayer allow the church to pray for a member who was ill or for the
means to accomplish some worthy goal.  Acts 16.25 says, “But at midnight
Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners
were listening to them.”  There is nothing in the context to indicate
that they were merely quoting the Lord’s words in that jail cell.  They
undoubtedly had more immediate and specific thoughts on their minds as
they prayed to God.

     There is nothing to forbid the repeating of “The Lord’s Prayer”
under certain circumstnaces.  Many times in the Old Testament, the whole
congregation would say, “Amen,” following the reading of the law of God.
And so today, many congregations have scripture readings during their
worship services.  This prayer is from the scripture and would thus be
perfectly acceptable for such a reading.  But there is really no
precedent in the New Testament for the whole assembly to repeat any words
together in prayer as we do in singing.  Of course, the language that
individuals choose for their personal prayers and even for the prayers
that they lead in the public assembly is their own decision, and some may
use certain words and phrases from “The Lord’s Prayer.”  But just
reciting “The Lord’s Prayer” should be considered in light of what Jesus
had said in Matthew 6.7, “But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions
as the heathen do.  For they think that they will be heard for their many
words.”  [From “Search for Truth,” Jan. 9, 2000]

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