Lord's Prayer

The context of the prayer in Matthew is as part of a discourse deploring people who pray grandiosely, simply for the purpose of being seen to pray; Matthew describes Jesus as instructing people to pray "after the manner" of this prayer. Taking into account the prayer's structure, flow of subject matter and emphases, one interpretation of the Lord's Prayer is as a guideline on how to pray rather than something to be learned and repeated by rote.

Relation to Jewish prayer

There are similarities between the Lord's Prayer and both Biblical and post-Biblical material in Jewish prayer especially Kiddushin 81a (Babylonian).[35] "Hallowed be thy name" is reflected in the Kaddish. "Lead us not into sin" is echoed in the "morning blessings" of Jewish prayer. A blessing said by some Jewish communities after the evening Shema includes a phrase quite similar to the opening of the Lord's Prayer: "Our God in heaven, hallow thy name, and establish thy kingdom forever, and rule over us for ever and ever. Amen." There are parallels also in 1 Chronicles 29:10-18.[36]

The prayer as it occurs in Matthew 6:9–13
"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 lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."
The prayer as it occurs in Luke 11:2-4
"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 who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation."

Analysis

Subheadings use 1662 Book of Common Prayer (BCP)

"Hallowed be thy name"

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams explains this phrase as a petition that people may look upon God's name (which is his word, his presence) as holy, as something that inspires awe and reverence, and that they may not trivialize it by making God a tool for their purposes, to put others down or make themselves feel safe. He sums up the meaning of the phrase by saying: "Understand what you're talking about when you're talking about God, this is serious, this is the most wonderful and frightening reality that we could imagine, more wonderful and frightening that we can imagine."[16]

"Thy kingdom come"

The request for God's kingdom to come is usually interpreted as a reference to the belief, common at the time, that a Messiah figure would bring about a Kingdom of God. Traditionally the coming of God's Kingdom is seen as a divine gift to be prayed for, not a human achievement. This idea is frequently challenged by groups who believe that the Kingdom will come by the hands of those faithful to work for a better world. It is believed by these individuals that Jesus' commands to feed the hungry and clothe the needy are the Kingdom to which he was referring.[17]

"Give us this day our daily bread"

The more personal requests break from the similarity to the Kaddish. The first concerns daily bread. The meaning of the word normally translated as daily, ἐπιούσιος epiousios, is obscure.  Epiousios can also be understood as existence, i.e., bread that was fundamental to survival.  Jesus is portrayed throughout Luke and Matthew as caring for everyday needs for his followers, particularly in the bread-related miracles that are recounted.[20][21]

"And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us"

After the request for bread, Matthew and Luke diverge slightly. Matthew continues with a request for debts to be forgiven in the same manner as people forgive those who have debts against them. Luke, on the other hand, makes a similar request about sins being forgiven in the manner of debts being forgiven between people. The word "debts" (ὀφειλήματα) does not necessarily mean financial obligations. In Aramaic the word for debt is also used to mean sin. This difference between Luke's and Matthew's wording could be explained by the original form of the prayer having been in Aramaic. The generally accepted interpretation is thus that the request is for forgiveness of sin, not of supposed loans granted by God.[22] Asking for forgiveness from God was a staple of Jewish prayers.

Anthony C. Deane, Canon of Worcester Cathedral, suggested that the choice of the word "ὀφειλήματα" (debts), rather than "ἁμαρτίας" (sins), indicated a reference to failures to use opportunities of doing good. He linked this with the parable of the sheep and the goats (also in Matthew's Gospel), in which the grounds for condemnation are not wrong-doing in the ordinary sense but failure to do right, missing opportunities for showing love to others (Matthew 25:31-46).[23]  Jesus taught that the forgiveness of our sin/debt (by God) is contingent on how we forgive others.

"And lead us not into temptation"

The range of meanings of the Greek word "πειρασμός" (peirasmos) is illustrated in The New Testament Greek Lexicon. In different contexts it can mean temptation, testing, trial, experiment. There are generally two arguments for interpreting the word as meaning here a "test of character". It may be  a plea against hard tests described elsewhere in scripture, such as those of Job.[24] It can also be read as: "LORD, do not let us be led (by ourselves, by others, by Satan) into temptations". Since it follows shortly after a plea for daily bread (i.e. material sustenance), it can be seen as referring to not being caught up in the material pleasures given.

"But deliver us from evil"

Translations and scholars are divided over whether the evil mentioned in the final petition refers to evil in general or the devil in particular. The original Greek, as well as the Latin version, could be either of neuter (evil in general) or masculine (the evil one) gender. While John Calvin accepted the vagueness of the term's meaning, he considered that there is little real difference between the two interpretations, and that therefore the question is of no real consequence.

"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen"

The doxology of the prayer is not contained in Luke's version, nor is it present in the earliest manuscripts of Matthew, but is present in the manuscripts representative of the Byzantine text. The doxology may have been originally appended to the Lord's Prayer for use during congregational worship.[specify] If so, it could be based on 1 Chronicles 29:11. Most scholars do not consider it part of the original text of Matthew.  Latin Rite Roman Catholics, as well as some Lutherans,[31] do not use it when reciting the Lord's Prayer. It is attached to the version of the Lord's Prayer used by most Protestants.




Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia