What is The Lord’s Prayer?
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 have also forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial [into temptation], but rescue us from the evil one. [For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours for ever. Amen.] (Matthew 6:9-13 NRSV [marginal readings in square brackets] )
I have already said that it is a prayer outline, but is there more to it? From the title you can guess what I am going to say now. It is Hebrew poetry. Now there is Hebrew poetry in the psalms and elsewhere, in this case I would class this as both Hebrew poetry and a psalm, and in Aramaic it even rhymes! (See http://aramaicherald.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/jesus-poet-christs-words-as-hebrew.html for more on this.)
What do I mean by saying that The Lord’s Prayer is Hebrew poetry. It struck me one day when I had been looking at The Lord’s Prayer and then read Psalm 1. In Psalm 1 we see parallelism, an idea stated and then either expanded or otherwise developed.
We see this in The Lord’s Prayer also.
- If God is our Heavenly Father then how should we respond?
- God’s kingdom and will are inseparable, you are saying the same thing in two different ways, and we want to see both on earth as they are already are in heaven.
- God provides for us both physical provision (food) and spiritual provision (forgiveness), our response should be to extend it to others.
- God id our protector, what does this mean for us.
- It is also finished off with a great doxology, which whether Jesus stated it with the prayer outline or not draws the whole prayer together, and back to praise to his Father, and finishes with a resounding ‘Amen’, ‘So be it’.
The book of Psalms in the Old Testament is often referred to as ‘The Prayer Book of The Bible’, there are psalms of praise, of prayer, of lament, of longing. More than that there are psalms elsewhere in the Old Testament, Moses’ and Miriam’s songs of praise to God in Exodus 15:1-21, and Deborah’s song in Judges 5 are a few examples. For me The Lord’s Prayer is the ultimate psalm of prayer and praise, as we shall see as we examine it in greater detail.
Jesus made The Lord’s Prayer easy to remember for his first century audience. How easy do you find it to remember? Why do you think this is the case? I’d love to hear your thoughts.