For many people, prayer is an enigma. It is not surprising that Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. Jesus’ response has become perhaps all too familiar. Even though many know “The Lord’s Prayer” by heart, few know the meaning of the words they recite. A legion of books has been written explaining the meaning of this short prayer, but few have been able to grasp the full impact of Jesus’ words. In fact, the first barrier to a proper understanding of the prayer is the traditional title, “The Lord’s Prayer.” Jesus never prayed these familiar words himself; rather, he passed this prayer on to his followers. Hence it is really “The Disciples’ Prayer.”
Too often, the importance of the Jewish background of the prayer and of the language that Jesus used has been overlooked or minimized.