Lord's Prayer the common title of the only form given by Jesus Christ to his disciples. Matthew inserts it as part of the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 6:9-13); nor is it inappropriate to the connection there, for the general topic of that part of the discourse is prayer. Luke, however, explicitly assigns the occasion for its delivery as being at the request of the disciples (Lu 11:2-4); and we cannot reasonably suppose either that they had forgotten it, if previously given them, or that our Lord would not have referred to it as already prescribed. The following analysis exhibits its comprehensive structure:
The closing doxology is omitted by Luke, and is probably spurious in Matthew, as it is not found there in any of the early MSS. The prayer is doubtless based upon expressions and sentiments already familiar to the Jews; indeed, parallel phrases to nearly all its contents have been discovered in the Talmud (see Schöttgen and Lightfoot, s.v.). This, however, does not detract from its beauty or originality as a whole. The earliest reference found to it, as a liturgical formula in actual use, is in the so-called Apostolical Constitutions (q.v.), which give the form entire, and enjoin its stated use (7:44), but solely by baptized persons, a rule which was afterwards strictly observed. The Christian fathers, especially Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen, are loud in its praise, and several of them wrote special expositions or treatises upon it. Cyril of Jerusalem is the first writer who expressly mentions the use of the Lord's Prayer at the administration of the holy Eucharist (Catech. Myst. 1). St. Augustine has also alluded to its use on this solemn occasion (Hom. 83). The Ordo Romanus prefixes a preface to the Lord's Prayer, the date of which is uncertain. It contains a brief exposition of the prayer. All the Roman breviaries insist upon beginning divine service with the Lord's Prayer; but it has been satisfactorily proved that this custom was introduced as late as the 13th century by the Cistercian monks, and that it passed from the monastery to the Church. The ancient homiletical writings do not afford any trace of the use of the Lord's Prayer before sermons (see Riddle, Manual of Christian Antiquities). Its absurd repetition as a Pater Noster (q.v.) by the Romanists has perhaps led to an undue avoidance of it by some Protestants. In all liturgies (q.v.) of course it occupies a prominent place, and it is usual in many denominations to recite it in public services and elsewhere. That it was not designed, however, as a formula of Christian prayer in general is evident from two facts: 1. It contains no allusion to the atonement of Christ, nor to the offices of the Holy Spirit; 2. It was never so used or cited by the apostles themselves, so far as the evidence of Holy Writ goes, although Jerome (Adv. Pelag. 3:3) and Gregory (Epp. 7:63) affirm that it was used by apostolical example in the consecration of the Eucharist. The literature of the subject is very copious (see the Christ. Remembrancer, January 1862). Early monographs are cited by Vobeding, Index Programmatum, page 33 sq., 131. Among special recent comments on it we may mention those of Bocker (Lond. 1835), Anderson (ibid. 1840), Manton (ib. 1841), Rowsell (ibid. 1841), Duncan (ibid. 1845), Kennaway (ibid. 1845), Prichard (ibid. 1855), Edwards (ibid. 1860), and Denton (ib. 1864; N.Y. 1865). SEE PRAYER.