Throughout the Christian world many people commonly refer to the passages of Scripture found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 as the Lord’s Prayer. However, a careful study of these passages will show us that in the verses cited, the Lord is teaching His disciples how they ought to pray. And so, what we find here is not actually the Lord’s prayer, but a model prayer, or an example of how men ought to pray.
To substantiate what has just been stated above, let us look at Luke 11:1 where we read the following words:
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
Here we find the Savior praying, and when he concludes His prayer, one of His disciples approaches Him and asks that He teach himself as well as the other disciples how to pray. Continuing our reading with the first part of verse two, “And he said unto them, when ye pray, say, ” And then with the rest of verse two through verse four the Savior teaches His disciples the things that they should include in their prayers.
Matthew gives us a fuller rendering of this model prayer. Before the Savior begins teaching His disciples how to pray, notice in the first part of Matthew 6:9 that He prefaces what He is about to teach them by saying, “After this manner therefore pray ye.” And then in the rest of verse 9 through verse 13 He gives them an example of how they ought to pray.
Careful note should also be taken that before the Master teaches His disciples how to pray He instructs them on some things that they should beware of when they pray. The instructions that the Master gives to His disciples are recorded in Matthew 6: 6-8:
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Many people repeat the verses found in Matthew 6: 9-13 regularly as a part of their daily prayers. Many churches use the verses as part of their regular worship services. Although there is no harm in doing so, we are reminded that the Savior clearly taught in Matthew 6:7, “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [unbelievers] do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” So, the caution is to avoid repeating this model prayer to the point where it becomes nothing more than vain repetition.
If we would like to hear our Savior praying, let us go to the Garden of Gethsemane as He kneels in prayer throughout the night praying for His disciples and for us to His Father. The prayer is found in John 17 and is also known as the Great Intercessory Prayer. This prayer is truly the Lord’s Prayer.