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Prayers

The central prayer of the Christian faith is the Lord's Prayer, which has been known traditionally in the Catholic church as the Our Father. In worship Christians often say, before reciting this prayer, "let us join together in the prayer that Jesus taught."

The prayer is found both in the gospels of Matthew and Luke in slightly different versions.  The text in the gospel of Matthew in the New Revised Standard Version reads as follows:

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 also have forgiven our debtors.
  And do not bring us to the time of trial, 
     but rescue us from the evil one. (Mt. 6:9-13)

Older translations may say, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name," and use "thy" for "your" throughout the prayer. Many translations say, "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." Or, the prayer may use the words, "forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." In addition, the last phrase is often: "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." 

There is no single version in English that can be characterized a "the correct" version.  Each version in English is a translation of the Greek text, which is also a translation of whatever Jesus taught in Aramaic.

Missing from this prayer in the gospel of Matthew is the concluding phrase, which is not used in the Catholic church as part of the prayer but is commonly used by Protestants:

"For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen." There are also various versions of this using "thine" rather than "yours" and ending with "forever and ever" or simply "forever." This concluding phrase does not appear in the New Testament in any of these forms, and is not strictly speaking part of the prayer that the gospel of Matthew reports Jesus taught to his disciples. The phrase was added to the prayer by the early church.

The gospel of Luke contains another version of the Lord's Prayer. In the New Revised Standard Version is reads as follows:

Father, hallowed be your name.
  Your kingdom come.
  Give us each day our daily bread.
  And forgive us our sins,
  for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.
  And do not bring us to the time of trial. (Lk. 11:2-4)

As in the gospel of Matthew, the concluding phrase that Protestants say as part of the prayer is missing. But other lines that are included in the prayer taught by Jesus in the gospel of Matthew are also missing from this account.

Clearly, the church felt free to choose the longer version of this prayer in the gospel of Matthew for its worship. And Protestant Christians, including those who read the Bible as the literal word of God, have added to the words from the gospel of Matthew "that Jesus taught" a concluding phrase that is not in scripture. 

The Lord's Prayer is not simply the word of God or the words taught by Jesus. It is the central prayer of Christian faith that was created from scripture by the church. The church chose to follow the text in the gospel of Matthew, rather than in the gospel of Luke. There is no way to decide which is the actual words spoken by Jesus. The text in the gospel of Matthew is not only longer but, like much of the gospel of Matthew, is eloquent, particularly for reading or saying aloud. The church added a concluding phrase, because it seemed too abrupt and somewhat negative to end with a concern about "the time of trial."

Other prayers and comments will soon be added to this web site. Thanks for your patience.

Prayers for Peace

 

 

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1 in Faith: A Christian Bible Study Copyright 2000 by Robert Traer