The Lord's Prayer as Liturgy

It has been observed by NT scholars that when the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, they were asking Jesus for a prayer that expressed his "yoke." A rabbi's yoke was his religious worldview. It was his way of approaching life in the light of his understanding of God and his Law. We must also keep in mind that Judaism in Jesus' day was highly liturgical. Set prayers were commonly used. For instance, Jews regularly prayed the Psalms (as do we). Therefore, when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, they were asking for a set prayer that had Jesus' unique stamp on it. They were essentially asking him to write his own psalm that they could pray.

They got what they asked for. The Lord's Prayer was most likely taught and practiced by Jesus on multiple occasions. Therefore, the disciples knew it before Jesus died. After he had died, risen, and ascended into heaven, his followers continued to recite the Lord's Prayer as the centerpiece of their daily prayer liturgy.

The Lord's Prayer is not fundamentally a pattern for prayer or a teaching on prayer. It is a prayer! We need to pray it habitually just like the early Christians did.


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