Jean’s Gospel: Introducing The Lord’s Prayer: A Brief Reception History

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25 Responses

  1. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    One question and perhaps it was addressed in one of the other articles – and perhaps I should know this.
    Why is it called the Lord’s Prayer vs the Disciple’s Prayer as it was given to them to paray back to the Lord. I have always considered Jesus’ prayer in the garden to be the Lord’s Prayer.

    I guess I have a 2nd question. In you research of the early Fathers and there thoughts, did they refer to it as the Lord’s Prayer? (I do see in your Augustine quote it says Lord’s Prayer but you never know if those things are added in translation – inserted for clarity.

  2. Owen says:


    Still really enjoying this study, lots to meditate on.

    I find this very helpful to me…
    ““And if you were to run over all the words of holy prayers, you would find nothing, according to my way of thinking, which is not contained and included in the Lord’s Prayer. Hence when we pray, it is allowable to say the same things in different words, but it ought not to be allowable to say different things.”

    The church I was baptized in as a young man had a strong tendency towards legalism. When this study began, I found myself feeling guilt at not reciting this prayer often in my own personal prayers. Your study has helped me let go of that, especially with the above quote. It has helped me to understand better the spirit behind the prayer, the format – not just parroting the words.

    Keep up the excellent work!

  3. Jean says:

    Thank you Owen.

  4. Jean says:


    In all of my research (and it is ongoing), I came across one commentator, Darrell Bock, who in his commentary proposed renaming the prayer as the Disciple’s Prayer. My initial reaction was to see the merit in Bock’s proposal. However, after thinking on it more over a period of months, I have rejected Bock’s proposal.

    “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

    The Word lives in us. When we pray His prayer His Word ascends to heaven from our lips. He prays for us and with us. In the word “Our”, I see the entire body including its Head.

    Also, consider that Christ died for us in order that we might pray His prayer. He won our adoption and the blessings of all 7 petitions with his precious blood.

    For these reasons, I prefer (personally) to see this as His prayer, which He invites me into. But, I’m glad you questioned this. It’s a question worth pondering.

    For these reasons, I prefer to think of this prayer as His.

  5. Em ... again says:

    i can’t begin to say how happy i am to see this prayer being examined here with such respectful and practical exposure … of course, it was reverenced down thru our history, and we have contemporary materiel written to “explain” it, but – IMV …
    in my lifetime, it has become an impotent ritual in the minds of us pew sitters…

  6. Jean says:


    Regarding your #2, I regret your prior experience regarding legalism. Unfortunately, even God’s greatest gifts can be disordered in our churches or minds into a law. We see it with the sacraments also.

    Imagine back in the wilderness of the OT if when Moses told the Israelites to look at the bronze serpent when someone got a snake bite, the people would have complained about Moses being a bossy legalist. Maybe some did. 🙂

  7. Em ... again says:

    this prayer is a gift from our Lord – it has in it quite a bit of spiritual power when our hearts and minds begin to line up with what we’re reciting (don’t like that word) … meditating on is better, perhaps – this prayer is powerful
    Lord’s Prayer – that suits when i think on it …

  8. Cash says:

    Great article Jean. I agree that this is the Lord’s prayer. It’s the Lord teaching the disciples how to pray. I find great value in reciting it word for word as it covers everything we need. I’m not legalistic about it, though. I think it’s a great idea to use the prayer as a model in a person’s prayer life too.

  9. Jean says:

    Thank you cash!

  10. Steve Wright says:

    Jean, I like your explanation to MLD but with one question. What do you do with the petition for forgiveness if primarily connecting the prayer to Jesus and not us. Thanks

  11. Jean says:


    You picked up on a very important question: the petition for forgiveness. I will do my best to answer, while extending the floor for related comments and questions.

    We start with the threefold office of Christ: Prophet, Priest and King.

    In His office as Prophet, Christ did was OT prophets did, he prayed to His father for and on behalf of His people. For example, in Ezra Chapter 9, Jewish officials reported to Ezra that the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites had not separated themselves from the peoples of the land (i.e., they intermarried). Look how Ezra prayed:

    “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. 7 From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today….

    10 “And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments, 11 which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, ‘The land that you are entering, to take possession of it, is a land impure with the impurity of the peoples of the lands, with their abominations that have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness. 12 Therefore do not give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters for your sons, and never seek their peace or prosperity, that you may be strong and eat the good of the land and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.’ 13 And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds and for our great guilt, seeing that you, our God, have punished us less than our iniquities deserved and have given us such a remnant as this, 14 shall we break your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who practice these abominations? Would you not be angry with us until you consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape? 15 O Lord, the God of Israel, you are just, for we are left a remnant that has escaped, as it is today. Behold, we are before you in our guilt, for none can stand before you because of this.”

    What we notice in this prayer is that Ezra is counting himself among the sinners, even though he himself did not intermarry. This may be what Jesus does as well in His prayer “forgive us our trespasses”.

    On the other hand, in His role as our high priest, Jesus atones for the sins of the world. The resurrection is the sign of the Father’s absolution of the Son. Jesus did not himself personally sin, but he became a sinner by imputation. Those sins for which he was crucified needed forgiveness. Therefore, just as Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness, I think it’s reasonable to assume that he prayed for forgiveness as well. This involves some inferences, bordering on speculation, so I offer this priestly explanation as a tentative personal opinion.


  12. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think my thought was who decided to call it the Lord’s Prayer – we obviously do not get it from the internal evidence.

    So someone must have said “Let’s call this the Lord’s Prayer.”

    It’s not much different than I think that many of the parables are misnamed – would you not agree that the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son are not about lost sheep, lost coins or lost sons?

    They are about the faithful rejoicing shepherd, the faithful caring woman and the faithful compassionate father.

    It’s one of those wonder out loud moments 🙂

  13. Jean says:


    Luther called it in some of his writings the Pater Noster. However, I would probably be run outta here if I went that Roman. 🙂

  14. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I think that is my point to a degree – it can go by many names. I hear it called the “our father” in my church.

    Hey RCC believe the Trinity – I am not going to stop because they believe it too. Some here may 😉

  15. surfer51 says:

    The Packer quote is good.

    “The Lord’s Prayer in particular is a marvel of compression, and full of meaning.

    This is what makes your post on the prayer a best seller for me.

    You bring more of the ongoing revelation found in the prayer from your back ground survey which makes my type of Cliff notes seem sorely lacking.

    I do like the title given to the prayer since it is the Lord who is sharing it and not one of the disciples.

  16. Steve Wright says:

    I see it like surfer. As if we said the city’s park, but it is given to be used by the people of the city. I also agree with MLD that the prayer in John is the insight prayer of our Lord to The Father

  17. Jean says:

    Thank you Surfer.

  18. Em ... again says:

    #11- the last paragraph says so much, that needs to be grasped by us humans
    did Jesus pray for personal forgiveness? not sure i’m ready to buy into that one, but his mortal flesh would die bearing mankind’s sins and baptism seems to affirm this inevitable fact

    even if you see man as only body and soul, God left Jesus on that cross to go through alone – “My God, why have You forsaken me?” as God the Holy Spirit withdrew, a sinless man, body and soul, hung there bearing our sins in his mortal body alone – no friends to rescue and no God to do so, either – the cry of Jesus when our sins were imputed to him as he hung on the cross should send chills down your spine i think

    all the implications of the cost of God taking on human flesh, all that implies, is something i need to ponder some more

    FWIW – so many folk today have been convinced that it is not intellectually honest to believe in a Supreme Being, One we’ll answer to for what we’ve done with this gift of life this morning this state of denial strikes me as so very, very tragic …

  19. Owen says:

    Jean @ #6,

    Thanks for the thought. There is a lot in the OT that could very well be taken as legalism. In fact, there’s a baptist church in my town that is known for applying OT rules.

    ” so many folk today have been convinced that it is not intellectually honest to believe in a Supreme Being”

    Wow. That leaves me shaking my head. There is nothing intellectual about that belief, IMO. That’s why it’s called faith.

  20. Em ... again says:

    Owen, not sure we’re tracking on this…
    nothing intellectual about belief? “faith is the substance of things hoped for ” – unseen things? ( Heb 11:1-3 ) perhaps…

    plenty of things to question:
    why do the folk in the orient torture animals such as cats and dogs for long periods of time to make them more tasty when eaten?
    why do little children today get their world bombed into oblivion?
    why do fathers desert their families?
    why diseases that corrupt and destroy bodies (and souls)?
    + natural disasters
    but there is no evidence to conclude that there is no God…
    all would make me think that God is cruel … but not that there is no god

    i thank God for this precious Book that explains Him – as much as is necessary to go on in faith – i just don’t see faith as a mindless pursuit of Him…
    Joshua 24:14-15

    well… that’s where you goaded my mind to go and may have nothing to do with your #11 – dunno … 🙂

  21. Owen says:


    Okay, my apologies for being rather unclear.

    I’ll try to put it better.

    When you said ” so many folk today have been convinced that it is not intellectually honest to believe in a Supreme Being”, I took that to mean that they basically can’t wrap their minds around it, can’t fathom that there is a Supreme Being.
    The reason that I said that leaves me shaking my head is because, to me, that’s where faith kicks in – I don’t think we are meant to try to understand how/why there is one. Sometimes I think intellectuals feel the need to have an explanation for everything.

    But again, that’s just my own opinion.

    BTW , what exactly do you think is meant by “intellectually honest”?

  22. Em ... again says:

    Owen, “how or why” there is one? thank you and yes, we agree for the most part

    but the fact that there IS a god is what i was referring to…

    most of the unbelieving intellectuals (so-called) that i’ve run into see time and science void of any evidence and dismiss the possibility of a god of any relevance at best – for these folk all our rational ability is just highly developed evolutionary phenomena – for them the miracle is science
    you’re born and you die and that’s that… and that, btw, is a type of ‘faith’ is it not? a dead end faith – tragic
    even though Scripture tells us that there is evidence for a creator all around us

    right now i don’t remember what prompted this rabbit trail off of the thread – my apologies

  23. Owen says:

    No need to apologize for your rabbit trails, I usually find them pretty interesting! 😉

    “– for these folk all our rational ability is just highly developed evolutionary phenomena – for them the miracle is science
    you’re born and you die and that’s that… and that, btw, is a type of ‘faith’ is it not? a dead end faith – tragic”…

    I have to agree with you there – and it takes a great deal more blind faith (IMO) to believe in that mystery than ours.

  24. Nonnie says:

    Really good stuff here, Jean.

    The Lord’s prayer has meant so much to me. There have been times my heart was so overwhelmed I did not have words to pray and the Lord’s Prayer has come flowing from my lips, reminding me my Father is great and glorious, and able, my Father will take care of all that concerns me, now and forever, and I can rest in His loving will.

    I think there is something very beautiful about a congregation standing together and praying this prayer aloud. “Our Father”….reminding me, I stand in the midst of brothers and sisters in Christ, and yet we have all, come to Christ needy and helpless, and He has rescued us. To Him be the glory and power forever and ever.

  25. Jean says:

    Beautiful Nonnie!

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