Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

T,he Lord's Prayer

When a person looks at the Lord’s Prayer, three features stand out immediately. First, he notices the simplicity or straightforwardness of the contents. Every word used in it is easy to understand. There is an obvious lesson in this, especially in connection with public prayer. The individual who is speaking must use words that all his listeners can understand. Praying with others is not an opportunity for stating theological jargon or erudite words that only the initiated can understand.

Second, although simple words are used, the prayer is doctrinally rich. A sample list of doctrines in it include adoption, the unity of God’s people, the fatherhood of God, the dwelling place of God, the kingdom of God, the providence of God, the compassion of God, the preservation of God, the existence of the devil and temptation, and so on. Prayer reveals how much a person understands about the God to whom he or she is praying. A simple prayer has to be a biblical prayer.

The third feature of the prayer that is immediately noticeable is its structure. It begins with adoration of God before it details intercession for oneself and others. Given that this prayer on another occasion was supplied by Jesus as a model prayer for his disciples to use in order to learn how to pray, it is evident that adopting a structure is part of learning to pray.

Since the prayer is known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, the impression may be assumed that Jesus used it first and then gave it to his people to use. But that is not the case. Jesus never prayed for the forgiveness of personal sin. So while he may have used some of the petitions in the prayer he could not use the entire prayer.

Another issue that has arisen within the church concerns whether or not this prayer should be used only word for word. This must have been a matter of discussion in the early church because the Didache, a church manual from the early second century, says that Christians should use the Lord’s Prayer three times a day. Furthermore the prayer has been included in liturgies since the days of the early church. Even at the Reformation, when many extra-biblical requirements were thrown out of worship, the use of the Lord’s Prayer was retained in Calvin’s liturgy in Geneva and in John Knox’s liturgy in Scotland.

The Directory for Public Worship, which was composed to accompany the introduction of the Westminster Confession and Catechisms says, ‘ And because the prayer which Christ taught his disciples is not only a pattern of prayer, but itself a most comprehensive prayer, we recommend it also to be used in the prayers of the Church. ’

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