Matthew 6:5 – 13 (KJV)
5And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6But 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.
7But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread.
12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Many people misunderstand the Lord’s Prayer to be a prayer we are supposed to recite word for word. Some people treat the Lord’s Prayer as a magic formula, as if the words themselves have some specific power or influence with God. The Lord’s Prayer should be understood as an example, a pattern, of how to pray. It gives us the “ingredients” that should go into prayer.
That the prayer Jesus is about to give was not meant to be repeated as a prayer itself is clear for several reasons.
- “Pray, then, in this way.” In the account in Luke the disciples did not ask Jesus to teach them a prayer but to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). Houtos oun (then, in this way) means literally, “Thus therefore,” and frequently carried the idea of “along these lines” or “in the following manner.”
- Jesus had just warned His followers not to pray with “meaningless repetition” (v. 7). recited verbatim would have been an obvious contradiction of Himself.
- Nowhere in the NT do we find an instance of that or any other prayer being repeated by anyone or used in a repetitious, ritualistic manner by a group.