The Lord’s Prayer is the Gospel

I’m working on a short essay in which I want argue that the Lord’s Prayer contains the essence of the gospel. It is a gospel prayer that shapes (creates really) a gospeled people.

9 “‘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.’

As I see it the Lord’s prayer is the gospel. It is the prayer the Jewish Messiah taught his disciples to pray, a prayer rooted in the story of Israel containing both elements of the kingdom and the cross, explicit and implicit respectively. The unity of heaven and earth is the telos of the gospel and it is the dream and yearning of the gospeled.

In addition, the Lord’s Prayer contains the demand of discipleship in its vision of a life that is socially just (“daily bread”) and reconciled (“forgiveness”), a life that perseveres through the trial, both ordinary (lower case “t”) and eschatological (upper case “T”). The gospel is a message of rescue from evil and its perpetrator.

The Lord’s Prayer strikes a tone of both present realization and future consummation. Ultimately it is God the Father who acts – this is not behavioral modication, but it is also no less true that as we absorb the prayer, as we make his prayer our own, we “become the answer to our prayers” in the words of Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals).

Praying back to God the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, we get used to saying God’s words as our words. We form habits of hoping that our lives will look more like God’s life . . . We become the kind of community that is the answer to our request (31).

Gospel Elements

  1. The Messiah
  2. The Story of Israel
  3. The Kingdom of God
  4. The Cross
  5. The Demand of Discipleship
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  • Yes!

  • Rob

    Just need a little more clarification. When you say that the Lord’s prayer “is” the gospel, what are you recommending that we do with it besides pray it? If the gospel is good news, something that is proclaimed, HOW can we use it as the gospel? I can definitely see how it “reflects” the gospel, something that would definitely be evidence or fruit of someone who has believed the gospel, but to say it “is” the gospel is something different altogether in my mind.

  • Allen Browne

    Joel, love the approach you’ve taken here.
    I’ve just finished teaching a series in which we argued that what Jesus prayed and what he lived were congruent. We understand his prayer by seeing his life, and we understand his life by listening in on his prayer.
    To the extent that what we pray and what we live are what Jesus prayed, we’ve learned to live and pray.
    God bless for the essay.

  • Craig Beard

    Joel, please let us know when you’ve finished the essay and where it’s available.

  • Just a short essay?! Come on, this should be good for at least a 5-week sermon series at CCC! Shoot, I think Larry Lea made an even longer series out of it! All kidding aside, I think you’re on to something here – maybe you should build a curriculum out of it to use in CRAVE? (If you haven’t already started that.)

  • A. Joseph

    Telford Work thinks along similar lines in his work, “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”