The Lord’s Prayer
Does Martin Luther deserve full credit for the popularity of this prayer?
Matthew 6:9-15: 9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
James Tissot – The Lord’s Prayer (Le Pater Noster) – Brooklyn Museum
James Tissot illustrates Jesus teaching his disciples how to pray. The disciples are gathered around Jesus and ask Him the question about how to pray. The arms of Jesus are open wide as He acknowledges His Father in heaven with the introduction, “Our Father…” which has become the most famous invocation in history. The setting on the top of a hill and the colors of the sky enhance the significance of Jesus Christ as both human and divine. James Tissot is a French impressionist artist who traveled to the Holy Land to research the places where Jesus walked and taught.
Luther included The Lord’s Prayer in The Deutsche Mass for the first time (1526) as it was not part of the Latin Mass in the Roman Catholic Church before the Reformation. This was also a revolutionary change from the understanding of forgiveness in Judaism, which differentiates between sins against God, rules, and other persons. Jews also expect forgiveness first from the one who committed the act (i.e. gossip, stealing) first before they would forgive the other person. In The Lord’s Prayer, people have a new standard when they pray, ‘forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us’!
Luther: “Here, now, learn how great need there is of such prayer. For because we see how full the world is of sects and false teachers, who all wear the holy name as a cover and sham for their doctrines of devils, we ought by all means to pray without ceasing, and to cry and call upon God against all such as preach and believe falsely and whatever opposes and persecutes our Gospel and pure doctrine, and would suppress it, as bishops, tyrants, enthusiasts, etc. Likewise also for ourselves who have the Word of God, but are not thankful for it, nor live as we ought according to the same. If now you pray for this with your heart, you can be sure that it pleases God; for He will not hear anything more dear to Him than that His honor and praise is exalted above everything else, and His Word is taught in its purity and is esteemed precious and dear.” (The Large Catechism by Martin Luther)