Words Jesus used to teach His followers to pray. Three forms of the Lord’s Prayer exist in early Christian literature-two in the NT (Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4) and the other in the Didache 8:2, a noncanonical Christian writing of the early second-century from northern Syria. Their similarities and difference may be seen if the three forms are set side by side.
Three conclusions derive from such comparison. First, it is the same prayer in all three cases. Second, the Didache likely uses the form the prayer found in Matthew. Third, Matthew’s version is longer than that of Luke at three points: at the end of the address to God, at the end of the petitions related to God, and at the end of the petitions related to humans. Also, study of the Greek manuscripts shows that the doxology that appears at the end of the Matthean form in some translations is not original; the earliest form the prayer with a doxology is in Didache 8:2. It is likely that each evangelist gave the prayer as it was generally used in his own church at the time.
Matthew and Luke used the Lord’s Prayer in different ways in their Gospels. In Matthew the prayer appears in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus spoke about a righteousness that exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees (5:20). It is located in a section that warns against practicing one’s piety before men in order to be seen by them (6:1-18). Almsgiving, praying, and fasting are for God’s eyes and ears. When praying one should not make a public display (6:5-6) or heap up empty phrases, thinking that one will be heard for many words (6:7).
In Luke the prayer comes in the midst of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem (9:51)-19:46). In His behavior Jesus is an example of one who prays. His prayer life caused one of His disciples to ask for instruction in prayer, as John the Baptist had given his disciples. What follows (11:1-13) is a teaching on prayer in which the disciples are told what to pray for (11:2-4) and why to pray (11:5-13). Here the Lord’s Prayer is a model of what to pray for. To pray in this way is a distinguishing mark of Jesus’ disciples. End of Part 1