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Should Christians still say The “Lord’s Prayer”?

Now, on the subject of how to pray, I want to present this question…

Should we still say the Lord’s Prayer?

I remember telling a Christian a while back that there are some days where I only say the Lord’s Prayer in the morning and at night and keep it at that. (Although, I did not tell this person that I have always had the tendency to talk/converse with God during the day since I was a kid, partly because there was no physical person to talk to sometimes and now, because I really do like doing it!)

Now, without knowing I pray with the latter method during the day, the person blurted out: “You shouldn’t say the Lord’s Prayer, that’s what Catholics do. No, you should really pray…”

What’s surprising is, when I also told my mother that I still say the Lord’s prayer morning and night since Jesus said, (I am paraphrasing at this stage) that is all I have to say, she said no, the Lord’s prayer is the pattern of how we should pray.

Well, I thought it over, coming from my mom and tried to make a prayer along those lines, then it hit me: Well, if this prayer is saying all that Jesus says needs to be said anyway, why change it. It only takes 30 seconds or less to say and if it ain’t broke, why fix it.

So, brothers and sisters, let’s review the issue of whether we should say the Lord’s Prayer or not (as in pattern our prayers after it/or I guess not say it at all….which seems weird anyway.)

Now, Catholics have prayed the Lord’s Prayer verbatim, as Christ gave it to us, since the time of the Apostles.

Our Eastern Orthodox brethren do the same, as do many of our separated Protestant brethren, including many Evangelicals.  It is a common, and often important, part of many Protestant liturgies. In fact, I remember growing up in Nigeria, that many elementary and high schools used to say the Lord’s Prayer in their morning assemblies on an almost daily basis.

Now according to this website: http://home.earthlink.net/~mysticalrose/paternos.html

The following seems to be the debate on the Lord’s Prayer being used as a daily mantra and I will like to include it here, then add my views afterwards or in strategic places:

There are a few Evangelicals, particularly those from the “anti-liturgical” school, who do not pray the Lord’s Prayer (also known as the “Our Father”).  They say that Jesus never intended it to be a set formula, repeated over and over again by His followers throughout the ages.  Rather, (they claim) He gave it as a general “outline” for our prayers, which should always be put in ones own words.

The alleged “biblical basis” they cite for this is Matthew 6:7, which reads “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking” (KJV). They claim that any recitation of the Lord’s Prayer is necessarily “vain repetition”, and so this could not have been Jesus’ intention in giving the prayer!

Interestingly, they generally do not apply this same principle to the Book of Psalms.  That book of the Bible contains no less than 150 pre-written, formulaic prayers!  Yet I have never heard anyone say that praying the Psalms verbatim is “vain repetition”, or that we must put them “into our own words” or use them as general “outlines” for personal prayer.  Evangelicals rightly recognize that these divinely-inspired prayers can be said “as-is”, and that we can gain many spiritual benefits from “praying with Scripture”.

If this is true of the inspired words of King David, then surely it is true of the very words of Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself!  Praying the Our Father need not be “vain repetition” if we put our hearts into it and truly mean what we say.  It is, after all, a biblical prayer!

Yet the question remains, did Jesus actually intend this prayer to be spoken word-for-word, as He gave it to us?  Or is it correct to argue that He gave it as a mere outline for personal prayer?

Judging from the context, it seems He definitely intended His followers to use the very words He dictated to them.  He never tells His disciples, “This is an outline for your personal prayers” or anything like that.  Instead, He prefaces the Our Father with the words:  “After this manner therefore pray ye” (KJV) or “Thus therefore shall you pray” (DV).  The obvious meaning is that they are to pray using those very words.

Now, the Lord’s Prayer could also serve as an outline for ones own prayers, if one wants.  It is the perfect prayer to God, so it certainly could not hurt to pattern ones personal prayers after it.  But that does not mean we can neglect praying the very words which Jesus gave us and commanded us to use.  He clearly intended this prayer to be one of the marks of His followers.

The early Christians understood this to be true.  In the eighth chapter of the Didache, an early Christian manual based on the teachings of the Apostles, we find the following command:

“Do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, like this:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one; for Thine is the power and the glory for ever.

Pray this three times each day”.

The early Christians, who were instructed by the Apostles themselves, prayed the Our Father verbatim three times a day!  Recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, even more than once daily, was an early Christian practice.

But wouldn’t this constitute “vain repetition”, which Our Lord condemned?  Well, do the angels in heaven engage in vain repetition because “they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Rev 4:8 KJV)?  Did Jesus commit vain repetition when He repeated His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “(He) went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words” (Mt 26:44)?  Or for that matter, do Evangelicals commit vain repetition when they pray the Psalms or the Prayer of Jabez word-for-word, or when they sing a chorus over and over again in church?  Obviously some repetition in prayer is permissible, so repeating the Lord’s Prayer is not necessarily “vain repetition”.

I think the real reason anti-liturgical Evangelicals object to praying the Our Father may very well be because it’s a “Catholic practice”.  Yes, it certainly is that.  It is also an early Christian practice which many other Protestants carry on.  So all objections to it are ultimately groundless.

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Wow, I am blown away by this writer’s article and I do not have anything to say except: I agree with everything here.

Therefore, if you must, re-read the article again and let the words sink into your subconscious.

In addition, I suggest that this prayer be said first thing in the morning and last thing at night (if possible the only set of words in both instances. You don’t have to be fanatical about this, but it could be a decent idea to implement since the time when a person wakes up and goes to sleep are said to be the bracket of one’s day.)

In Friendship,

Foras Aje is an independent researcher and author of “Fitness: Inside and Out”, a book on improving physical and mental health naturally with a Bible-Based Diet and Exercise. For more information on this book or other natural health tips, visit his site at http://www.bodyhealthsoul.com/

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