Last week I blogged about saying the Lord’s Prayer each Sunday in church as a kid and my apprehension for doing so. I cited my reason as the phrase “vain repetitions” (KJV) found in Jesus’s warning about how not to pray. The NIV is more colorful in its rendering: “babbling like pagans.”
Though I didn’t get it as a kid, I now know that not all repetition need be in vain. I suppose that just as we can have vain repetition, we can likewise have worthwhile repetition.
So is repeating the Lord’s Prayer vain or worthwhile? I suppose that depends on the person doing the reciting. For some the repetition may be in vain and for others it may be worthwhile.
What I do know is that just a couple verses after Jesus warns against vain repetition and babbling like the pagans when we pray, he teaches us the Lord’s Prayer.
This gives me pause, for it seems like he tells us not to do something and then teaches us how to do what we’re not supposed to do. Is this another of the Bible’s paradoxes?
However, I don’t think Jesus intends us to recite his prayer. I suspect he gives it to us as a model to guide us, not a passage to memorize. That’s what I use the Lord’s Prayer for, not a form to follow verbatim, but an example to steer my words when I communicate with God.
So, yes, I do use the Lord’s Prayer when I pray. I follow it as an outline to inform my prayers, not a refrain to repeat. For if I recite it verbatim, it would indeed become vain repetition—at least for me.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
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2 replies on “Should We Recite the Lord’s Prayer?”
Thank you. I have felt the same way for years. The true Lord’s Prayer is Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane where He blessed the Apostles, the Church, the future Church, and Himself. The prayer model He gave them was simply a way to pray as He had warned them against being heard for their many words and also about their faith turning into vain repitions instead of a open dialogue with the Father. But let’s remember the Apostles had a habit in that period of time of getting in their own way when it came to their relagionship with God in Christ. Why should it be any different for us?
Jeff, you are so right. Even though we refer to this as “The Lord’s Prayer,” a better label would be the “Disciples’ Prayer.”
I agree that Jesus’s prayer in John 17, would more aptly be the Lord’s Prayer.