The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Lord's Prayer, The

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LORD'S PRAYER, The, sometimes called “Our Father” or the “Pater Noster,” from the first two words in English or in Latin; and called the “Lord's Prayer” because taught by our Lord to his disciples. The prayer is given in the Bible, in Saint Matthew vi, and in Saint Luke xi. It is given both as a prayer and as a model or standard of prayer, and in Matthew is introduced by the words: “After this manner therefore pray ye.” In Luke the introduction is: “When ye pray say,” and is followed by the words. There is a difference in the form as given in the two gospels mentioned. In Matthew the words are “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done as in heaven so upon earth. Give us to-day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors; and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. Amen.” In Luke the words are: “Father, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come. Give us day by day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.”

The doxology, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever, Amen,” is not found in many of the best ancient authorities, and for that reason it is omitted in Tischendorf's eighth edition of the New Testament and in the Westcott and Hort Greek New Testament.

The prayer was introduced or taught in the “Sermon on the Mount,” and as given in Matthew consists of nine parts — one salutation or invocation, seven petitions and “Amen.” In the salutation there are three distinct points; first, the word “Father,” implying fatherhood, sonship. Second, the word “Our,” which includes all mankind, a profession of brotherhood, a manifestation of charity in the most effective manner. Third, “Heaven,” where God is in His glory, for where His glory is revealed that is heaven. The seven petitions are usually divided into three parts. The first three petitions refer to the honor of God; the last three to our own advantage; and the fourth petition has an element of both the first and the last groups.

The “Amen” is a common ending to prayer, usually derived from the Hebrew verb meaning “to be firm,” or from a Hebrew noun meaning “truth,” and commonly rendered "so be it" or "may it be so." In this place its signification is usually regarded as meaning a stronger confirmation of what has just been said. In places in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic, the Protestant Episcopal and the Greek churches where the word “Amen” occurs, it is usually said by the server or clerk; but the “Amen” belonging to the “Lord's Prayer” is said by the celebrant of the mass.

Some of the early waiters divided the petitions into six, joining the sixth and seventh. Many Protestant writers make this division, but Roman Catholic writers follow Saint Augustine, and divide the prayer into seven petitions. Lutheran writers generally follow this division, also the Protestant writers, Bleck, Hilgenfield, Keil and Tholuck. The gradation of the petitions is remarkable: First, the honor and glory of God is sought; second, our own greatest good; third, the necessary means to attain eternal life; fourth, necessities for the present life; fifth, to be freed from the greatest evil; sixth, to be freed from the evil next to the greatest; seventh, to be freed from all evil. The fifth, sixth and seventh petitions are directed against the respective impediments opposed to the good mentioned in the second, third and fourth petitions.

The doxology is explained in various ways, as a liturgical addition, as an ancient continuation used by the priests and then the people. The “kingdom” in the doxology seems to refer to the first and second petitions; the “power” to the third petition; and the “glory” to the following petitions.

Directly following the “Lord's Prayer,” in the gospel of Saint Matthew vi, 14, there is an extension or explanation of the fifth petition, giving again the conditions of forgiveness; “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”

Commentators differ as to the exact relation between the form of the “Lord's Prayer” in the gospel of Matthew and in Luke. It is held by many authorities that the prayer was taught on two different occasions, to different persons, except the apostles who were present on both occasions. Both forms were given as models and both contain the essentials. It appears in the earliest manual of Christian devotion, the ‘Didache,’ at the beginning of the 2d century, and was first associated, not with the Eucharistic sacrifice, but with the daily offices. The prayer occurs in all ancient liturgies except the so-called Clementine liturgy — given in the Apostolic Constitutions. In all the principal liturgies it occurs shortly before the Communion.

Many polyglot collections of the prayer have been published from the 16th century downward, the most remarkable of which were those of John Chamberlayne in 150 languages (1715), of Conrad Gesner in 200 (1748) and that of Padre Hervaz in 307 (1787). There are expositions of the Lord's Prayer by Origen, Chrysostom, Gregory Nyssa, Cyprian, Luther, Leiphton and Tholuck.

Bibliography.— Maas, ‘The Gospel According to Saint Matthew’; Kenrick, the gospels of Saints Matthew and Luke in ‘The Four Gospels’; Saint Thomas Aquinas, ‘The Lord's Prayer’; and the following authors in various writings, Bleck, Meyer, Kiel, Schanz, Spirago, Jannaris, Tholuck, W. Grimm, Hilgenfield, Peischel, Wendt, Weiss, Saint Augustine and Saint Alphonsus. Consult also Plummer in Hastings' ‘Dictionary of the Bible’ and Nestle and Lambert in the ‘Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels,’ with authorities quoted thereunder.