THE REST OF THE STORY (The Lord’s Prayer – 2)

Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who lives from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen! [Psalm 41:13 (NLT)]

Praise the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does such wonderful things. Praise his glorious name forever! Let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen! [Psalm 72:18-19 (NLT)]

musk mallowLuke’s version of what is called “The Lord’s Prayer” differs from the version given during the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 6. Both prayers, however, are probably shorter than the prayer most Protestants recite today. Missing is the phrase, “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.” Because this phrase was not found in the two earliest Greek manuscripts of Matthew’s gospel, many modern Bible translations do not include it. Although found in later manuscripts, most Biblical scholars believe it to be a later liturgical addition to the original prayer. So, how did we come to pray this prayer in its present form?

That those words were not found in the early manuscripts doesn’t necessarily mean Jesus never said them; after all, the gospels don’t include everything our Lord did or said. Moreover, it was not uncommon for Jews to end their prayers with what was called a doxology: a short, hymn-like verse exalting the glory of God. If the words did not come from Jesus, they probably came from any one of several psalms, 1 Chronicles, or some other Jewish prayer. Jesus never said this was the only prayer to be said nor did He tell His followers to stop saying the prayers they learned in the temple. We know Jesus often visited the temple and scripture specifically tells us that Peter and John visited the temple for 3:00 PM prayers. It’s understandable that this prayer, taught to Jewish disciples by a Jewish Jesus, took on some of its Hebrew heritage and flavor.

The version with which most of us are familiar comes from what is called the Didache. Bearing neither date nor author, it was written as early as 50 to 90 AD. The only complete copy has two titles: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles and The Teaching of the Lord through the Twelve Apostles to the Gentiles. While not considered God-breathed or inspired and not part of the Biblical canon, it is still a valuable document. A sort of handbook for the early Christians, it gives us insight into the early church. Along with describing the rituals of Baptism and the Eucharist, it gives instructions to recite what we call the Lord’s Prayer three times a day. This instruction is not unusual and again reflects Christianity’s Jewish heritage; Jewish men were supposed to pray three times a day. So now, as famed broadcaster Paul Harvey would say, “You know the rest of the story.”

Neither pray you as the hypocrites, but as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, thus pray you: Our Father, Who are in heaven, hallowed be Your name; Your kingdom come; Your will be done, as in heaven, so also on earth; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our debt, as we also forgive our debtors; And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one; For Yours is the power and the glory for ever and ever. Pray this three times in the day. [Didache, 8:3-8:11]

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name! [1 Chronicles 29:11-13 (NLT)]

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