After watching the Lord heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out demons for two and half years, one of the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
We usually skip over the disciple’s words and go straight to the Lord’s answer, but what the disciple asked was a normal question for a noted Jewish rabbi or teacher. These leaders taught their disciples special prayers to pray. The one who asked was probably familiar with John’s style of prayers, even though none of them have survived for us today.
Jesus’ answer is now known as the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.] (Matthew 6:9-13 KJ)
Jewish theologians look at the Lord’s Prayer and nod their heads in agreement. What Jesus prayed was basic Judaism 101 of His day. Its first words –”Our Father in heaven” (Avinu sh’baShammayim) – open many Hebrew prayers. The next two lines recall the first portion of the synagogue prayer known as the Kaddish, which says, “Magnified and sanctified (Yitgadal v’yitkaaadash) be His great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will, and may He establish His kingdom in your lifetime…” (Taken from Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H.Stern, p. 32)
In our study of prayer, it is important to keep in mind our Hebraic roots.
(Continued in Part 3)