The LORD’S PRAYER is one of the most well known prayers. Millions of Christian believers say this prayer everyday. Not surprisingly, most English -speaking people are familiar with the words “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,” as well as other lines in Jesus’ prayer. What many people do not realize is that there are two versions of this prayer in the Bible.
One version is found in Matthew 6:9-13, where Jesus offers the Lord’s Prayer as an example of how Christians should pray. Matthew includes this version as part of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, in which he instructs his disciples on the importance of expressing one’s faith through prayer, almsgiving, and fasting.
The other version appears in Luke 11:2-4, where Jesus presents the Lord’s Prayer as an example of an appropriate manner in which to pray. Here, Jesus’ disciples had approached him and asked, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples” (verse 1). Jesus instructs, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.”
The version in Luke may seem abbreviated to those familiar with the prayer as it is spoken within most churches. Some elements are absent in Luke’s version. Omitted are “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), “rescue us from the evil one” (verse 13), and “for the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen” (verse 13 KJV)
Apparently Luke wanted his readers to pay close attention to Jesus’ focus on the importance of the sincerity of prayer. This is not only apparent in the prayer itself but also in the stories that follow (verses 5-13). We should be less concerned with the outcome of prayer than with the relationship it creates. Indeed, true prayer pulls God and people together; that is, it pulls us up to God and not God down to us.
Just as the Ten Commandments begin by focusing on God and then on humans, so the Lord’s Prayer focuses on God first and only then on human needs.