Can we pray the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer?
We complete our series on the Lord’s prayer with the conclusion, “Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.” We finish with a statement of God’s strength, not a petition. However, the interesting part of this prayer is that it is not found in the accounts of the Lord’s prayer in Matthew or Luke. Some translations include this doxology (KJV, NKJV, and NASB). Most translations only include this in the footnote with a comment saying, “some manuscripts add…” We are confronted with some important questions about why this is the case, and should we pray it when we pray the Lord’s prayer?
Firstly, what does it mean when we find a footnote that says something about manuscripts. The scholarly work of studying manuscripts is a discipline called palaeography. We do not have enough time to discuss this in this week’s topic. However, simply put, translators have to make decisions. One of those decisions is what manuscripts do you seek to translate. So, do you go with manuscripts that are closer to the date of writing or the manuscripts that we have more copies of? The doxology is found in later manuscripts, Byzantine text, (which we have more of) but not found in earlier manuscripts, Alexandrian text, (that we do not have as many). The ESV, and other modern translations, omit the doxology because of their translation philosophy. For more information please read Michael J. Kruger’s book, The Question of Canon.
Does this raise questions of our Bible translation? Can we trust the Bible? Every Bible translation has its issues, mainly from translating a language to another language always creates issues. However, almost every Bible translation is evidence of the reasons we can trust the Bible. This single footnote is one of these accounts. We have a footnote that shows the care and work that has gone into studying the Bible. Throughout the ages, God has preserved His word and even after hundreds of years of scrutiny and critics we are able to point to our Bibles and say this is the Word of God. Biblical Criticism can be orthodox or liberal in their theology. We need to be able to ask the right questions of the origin of our Bibles because God has preserved his word with ordinary means throughout history. Can we trust our bibles? YES. Is the doxology included in the gospel of Luke? No. Is it included in the first copy of Matthew? Most likely not. However, the footnote is confirmation that we uphold God’s word. We do not critic the Bible away like liberal scholars, but we uphold God’s word and the means he preserved it through history.
Secondly, if it is not included in the gospel accounts is it right to pray this doxology when we pray the Lord’s prayer? Depends, are you praying the Lord’s prayer from Matthew or Luke or tradition? Firstly, Matthew and Luke have different prayers, if we were to pray them word for word it would be different. Luke only says, “Father,” rather than “our Father in Heaven.” Luke does not include the third petition; Luke has sins instead of debts and does not have ‘but deliver us from evil.’ The church has traditionally prayed the Matthean account of the Lord’s prayer. We also would conclude with ‘Amen’ which is not included in Matthew or Luke. This question comes back to, as we see the Lord’s prayer as a prescription or pattern of prayer. If the Lord’s prayer is a prescribed form, then we should only pray what the Matthew or Luke account gives us. However, we have said that the Lord’s prayer is a pattern for prayer, not the only form you pray. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says the Lord’s prayer is a “perfect summary, kind of skeleton, that covers everything.” Matthew Henry says, “Remarkably concise and yet vastly comprehensive.”
Back to our question, is it right to pray the doxology when we pray the Lord’s prayer? We are called to pray the whole Bible. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What rule has God given for our direction in prayer? The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but the special rule of direction is that form of prayer which Christ taught his disciples, commonly called The Lord’ s prayer” (WSC 99). We are called to pray the whole Bible not only the Lord’s prayer. Thomas Manton says, “One good way to get comfort is to plead the promise to God in prayer.… Show him his handwriting; God is tender of his word. These arguing’s in prayer are not to work upon God, but ourselves.” We are called to pray the Bible back to God. So, is the doxology Biblical? Yes, it is accurate in its doctrine, but it is also from 1 Chronicles 29:11. So the question, “can we pray the doxology?” The answer is yes. Understanding we might not be praying the Lord’s prayer from Matthew 6:9-13, but Matthew 6:9-13 and 1 Chronicles 29:11.
Our Bible was written in history and has man’s work in its transmission. We are not ashamed of this because we know that the Bible was written by chosen men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit. The Westminster Confession of Faith states, “The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical; so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.” We appeal to the original languages and original manuscripts.
We pray Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen. As a biblical prayer, although it might not be found in Matthew 6:13, or Luke 11:4 it is a biblical prayer that can be shown throughout the scriptures but also is found specifically in 1 Chronicles 29:11.
This blog section has been broken down into two for lighter reading. You can read the second part here.