After this manner

November 13, 2007 | 33 comments
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After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

(Matthew 6:9-13; see also 3 Nephi 13:9-13).

So . . . why don’t we?

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33 Responses to After this manner

  1. Jacob M on November 13, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    It seems to me that we don’t as a way of seperating us from the other churches and their “vain repititions”. Question: The words that are translated as “after this manner therefore pray ye,” do they mean to pray exactly this way, or pray in a way that is similar to this? The answer to that might also have some bearing as to this post.

  2. Julie M. Smith on November 13, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    I decided to look into “after this manner.” The adverb appears over 200 times and is translated after this manner in the KJV:

    so 164, thus 17, even so 9, on this wise 6, likewise 4, after this manner 3, miscellaneous 10

    Looking at the other usages in Matthew, you could probably justify translating it as “therefore.”

    I don’t know that that helps us understand 6:9 very much, except that I think that reading it as “using these identical words” is not a defensible reading. Which leads to a very good question (that neither Matthew nor 3 Nephi answers): What parts of it should be emulated? Which parts are accidental?

  3. Julie M. Smith on November 13, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    One more thought: Matthew isn’t punctuated (not sure what argument you’d make for 3 Nephi.) You could maybe read it as: “So therefore pray. [And now I'm going to follow my own advice.] Our Father, etc.”

    (And I’m sure the reason it isn’t translated as “therefore” is because there is another word for “therefore” immediately following it. But I was just making the point that the word can, I think, bear that nuance.)

  4. Ray on November 13, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    I tend to believe the “therefore” ["After this manner (therefore) pray ye . . ."] simply points to the previous counsel given in verses 1-7, (“I have told you these things; therefore, pray in this basic way.”) since that phrase (“after this manner therefore”) doesn’t appear anywhere else in the scriptures.

    Given the injunction in verse 7 against “much speaking,” I think it is a model of brevity and of general form. I think we do a pretty good job overall of following the pattern (except, perhaps, the public brevity). Where we fail most often as a people, imo, is in not modeling the praise (“Hallowed be thy name.”) and the humility (“Thy will be done.”) in *all* our prayers.

  5. Joshua Madson on November 13, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    My grandfather always began his prayers “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” I don’t see why we wouldn’t use the Lord’s prayer, at least the spirit of it and the things he prays for. There is no reason you cannot expand and personalize upon it but at the same time there is nothing wrong at all with using it. We all use certain formulas in our prayers through habit

  6. Mark IV on November 13, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    D&C 20:76

    “And the elder or priest shall administer it; and after this manner shall he administer it—he shall kneel with the church and call upon the Father in solemn prayer, saying:…..”

    I have also wondered why the sacrament prayers are repeated word for word, since they are also introduced with the phrase “after this manner”.

  7. Ray on November 13, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    Mark, there is a different application in D&C 20:76. “After this manner” is linked to the manner of administration – by kneeling and praying. The “saying” of the recorded words is separate from the manner of administration.

  8. Clair on November 13, 2007 at 11:37 pm

    I will sometimes begin a prayer using “hallowed be thy name.” It has great power to focus my mind and immediately remove any casualness with which I may have knelt.

  9. AHLDuke on November 13, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    I think it is worthy of observation what Joshua says in #6. I find myself settling into all kinds of vain repetitions in my own prayers, even unintentionally. I don’t know why my vain repetitions ought to be preferred over those in scripture. I think this also goes to Kevin Barney’s recent post at BCC about why sacrament prayers have to repeated just so. It seems like the spirit of the thing ought to be the most important. Nevertheless, seeing as how we believe in a personal God, who knows and loves us as his children individually, I cannot find a principled reason why he would insist on us saying the exact same words to him regularly.

  10. Ray on November 14, 2007 at 12:44 am

    #9 – There is a huge difference between an individual, personal prayer and a communal commitment of specific covenants. I talk with my biological father one-on-one very differently than do when I talk to a group – or as a representative of a group in a formal setting.

  11. Keith on November 14, 2007 at 1:40 am

    I often point out to students in my World Religions course that repetitions of themselves aren’t spoken against — vain repetitions are. We can generally be a little kinder to those whose practices differ. Furthermore, as much as we notice things that get repeated often we have to admit that there are only so many ways you can ask the food to be blessed without doing some sort of verbal calisthenics that draw more attention to themselves. Some needs and thing we need to give thanks for stay the same. (Confession: My mom corrected me rather clearly one time when she came to hear me pray before I went to bed (I was about 10 or so). I said. “I’m thankful for the same things I was last night.” In some ways it was laziness. In some ways it was and acknowledgment that my prayers were repetitive (perhaps vainly). In other ways it was faith that Heavenly Father heard me the night before.

    To the original question: if the Lord intended the prayer to be repeated every time we pray, certainly in the scriptural record neither he nor any of his followers pray that way. Of course, it might be argued that when it says the prayed or gave thanks, that this is implied. (A interesting historical study would be to see when the practice of repeating the “Our Father” gets started.

  12. Martin Willey on November 14, 2007 at 2:16 am

    I think most of us usually do. The elements I see contained in the Lord’s Prayer are: 1) Address and pray to God the Father in a spirit of worship and gratitude; 2) Seek to align our will with his; 3) Ask for forgiveness and help with what we need; and 4) Ask for strength to live a righteous life. Isn’t that basically how you pray?

  13. Velikye Kniaz on November 14, 2007 at 2:42 am

    With regard to Ray’s comment (#4) on brevity in prayer; in other Scriptures we are also instructed to ‘pray without ceasing’ and with our ‘rising up’, etc. To me this indicates that our Heavenly Father desires that we establish a permanent avenue of communication with Him, including, it would appear, constant updates as to how our lives are transpiring and calling upon Him to involve Himself as He sees fit, in it. As a former Catholic, I can tell you that the recitation of the Rosary was for me a mind numbing experience. Although for some Catholics it seems to take on the meditative effects of a mantra with it’s cadenced repetition. In my experience, ‘successful’ prayer, i.e. communing with our Creator, is a developed skill that requires sharp focus and concentration. Regrettably, it remains one that I still have not fully mastered. I am firmly convinced that Our Father in Heaven does want us to pray in a conversational manner and pour out to Him our worries, concerns, problems as well as gratitude for His constant blessings and spiritual support. When that time comes when each of us are called back into His Presence, I expect that He well might say, “Thank you so much for your diligent remembering of Me, I was always thrilled to hear from you. Welcome home!”

  14. meems on November 14, 2007 at 5:58 am

    What Martin said in #12.

    I always thought we _did_ pray after that manner, and that’s how we’re taught to pray from Primary on up (“I begin by saying Dear Heavenly Father, I thank Him for blessings He sends…).

    There’s nothing wrong in repeating the Lord’s Prayer, I guess, but I thought “after this manner” meant “like this example,” not repeating it word for word.

  15. Adam Greenwood on November 14, 2007 at 9:26 am

    It goes to show that we don’t accept scripture as the only authority. We’re more catholic in that the Church and practice are also authoritative.

  16. Joel on November 14, 2007 at 9:52 am

    I always thought that set prayers, when involved with ordinances, were symbolic of the perfection we try to achieve through these rites. All of the set prayers we utilize in the church are associated with ordinances that in turn have some type of symbolic relationship with Christ’s atonement–the epitome of perfection. It seems that individual and group prayers serve the purpose of trying to align our wills with God instead of serving as a symbols of the perfect nature of the atonement. Christ’s prayer serves as a perfect example of such will-alignment. It takes me a lot more work and words to even begin to try and accept the will of God in my life. For this reasons, I am grateful for the freedom to use whatever words will help me in this quest. I do not think, however, that there is anything inherently wrong with a thoughtful usage of many of the components of the Lord’s prayer.

  17. jonj on November 14, 2007 at 10:16 am

    I was running in a marathon a few years ago. I cruised through the wall at the 20mile mark only to crash later at around the 23-mile mark. To continue runnning and not give into the pain, I began playing mind games, such as alphabetizing the states. And then, for some unexplainable reason, I began reciting the Lord\’s Prayer. Raised in the church, I had never said the Lord\’s Prayer in my life, but it bought me another mile and I was grateful. Marcus Borg says those who do recite the Lord\’s Prayer should use such liturgical language to bring them to a \”thin place,\” meaning a thin place in the veil. If it works for someone, fine. I would certainly not criticize someone who uses the Lord\’s Prayer for any reason. And frankly, I have to wonder if reciting the Lord\’s Prayer is any more mindless or repetitious than using some of the language one finds in \”Mormon\” prayers, such as \”Bless those who aren\’t here this week that they may be here next week,\” that was a staple of Primary and Sunday School when I was growing up. To me, the most powerful prayers have always been simple conversations, free of jargon, repetitive phrases, anything grandiose.

  18. Julie M. Smith on November 14, 2007 at 10:24 am

    ““I’m thankful for the same things I was last night.””

    LOL!

  19. Zat on November 14, 2007 at 10:25 am

    We do.

  20. Ray on November 14, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Julie beat me to it. I have said that same basic prayer more than once in my life.

  21. john f. on November 14, 2007 at 10:59 am

    # 12 is key and has always been my understanding of how Latter-day Saints understand Christ’s teaching in Matthew 6:9-13.

  22. Jacob M on November 14, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    17 – I would have you know that when I pray in church, I sincerely pray for the people who aren’t there that they’ll be there the next week. It might not happen, but I think the Lord likes it when we pray for those either lost to, lazy in, or not part of the faith.

    11 – Like 18 + 20, I thought that was stinking awesome!

    I also can’t say the Lord’s prayer without breaking into song. Imagine that at the end of sacrament meeting!

  23. Norbert on November 14, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    It’s not the wording I think we should emulate — its the length. There’s about 60 words there — why do we need three minute prayers? (Especially at the end of sacrament meeting when my kids can almost taste freedom?)

  24. Carl Eriksson on November 14, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    I grew up with the impression that we Mormons don’t have any set prayers (except for a couple, because they are so important they HAVE to be said right), and that only other religions actually repeated the Lord’s Prayer, which was “clearly” just a model. It even felt funny saying the Lord’s Prayer, like I was going over to another faith. But then I came to see that we have plenty of set prayers and rituals, including baptism, temple rites, and so on, which are certainly sometimes performed with a spirit of great dispatch. I’ve also learned that there were plenty of set prayers in the early church, many of them taken from the Jews (including the Psalms), but some original with Christians. And of course many spontaneous prayers are not so heartfelt. And so I’ve come to think that it doesn’t matter so much whether a prayer is set or spontaneous, but where the heart is. It’s not a very original thought, but it’s not easy to attain either. A set prayer can be heartfelt, a spontaneous prayer can be mechanical. I think about the older man on my mission who was terribly excited to baptize a new convert, but in his nervous dialect, which always doubled the first person singular, he could not repeat the prayer exactly: he kept saying “I I baptize you…” And this went on 5 or 6 times, he just could not say “I baptize you…” And the presiding officer kept making him do it over. After a few more unsuccessful attempts, it was pure torture and tension in that room, with no room for any holy spirit. After about 8 or 9 tries they finally let it go, and I think rightly, especially because to him “I I” simply meant “I.”

  25. Clair on November 14, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    As a missionary, we taught the “four step of prayer.” In a generic Christian forum, one writer gave his four steps as, “God” “Wow!” “Thanks!” “Help!” I think the Wow! step means praise.

    I sometimes hear the Wow! in public LDS prayers, but not usually.

  26. Nitsav on November 14, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Norbet- President Kimball is with you on keeping it short in public, and even invokes the Lord’s prayer as a model.

    “The family group prayer should be in length and composition
    appropriate to the need. A prayer of a . . . couple would be dif-
    ferent from one for a family of grown children or for one of small
    children. Certainly, it should not be long when little children are
    involved, or they may lose interest and tire of prayer and come
    to dislike it. When the children pray, it is not likely they will pray
    overlong. The Lord’s Prayer, given as a sample, is only about
    thirty seconds and certainly one can do much thanking and
    requesting in one or two or three minutes, though there are
    obviously times when it might be appropriate to commune
    longer.”

    From the current manual, 54-55.

  27. Ray on November 14, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    An anecdotal example, received second hand (even if only legend, good enough to pass along):

    In the instructions for the prayers that accompanied a temple dedication, those who were asked to offer the prayers were told to make sure the prayers lasted no longer than two minutes – *at the absolute longest*. One brother apparently didn’t internalize the directive, so, in the middle of a long-winded prayer that showed no signs of nearing completion after the approved two minutes, Pres. Hinckley firmly said, “Amen.”

    Regardless of its authenticity, I really like this story.

  28. Kevin Barney on November 14, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    I think Norbert and SWK are on the right track.

    In v. 7 he tells the disciples not to use vain repetitions as the heathen do with their much speaking.

    In v. 8 he says don’t pray like them.

    In v. 9 he says, in contrast, pray in the following way (and gives the Lord’s prayer).

    I think he was speaking both of length and of content, in contrast to pagans who would spend two hours chanting “Great is Diana of the Ephesians.” We don’t need to pray for two hours, and we should use actual sentences with real content and not just chant “vain repetitions.”

  29. Kevin Barney on November 14, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    BTW, for my post on vain repetitions, see here:

    http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/05/vain-repetitions/

  30. SteveG on November 14, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    That is why we believe in prophets and apostles and modern day revelation – so we know how do do simple things (i.e. pray) without the need to quibble over scriptural meanings.

  31. Steve Jones on November 14, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    The following is I feel a an excellent examble of prayer which is heartfelt and full of WOW. It was given by Pres. Hinckley at the close of the October 2001 General Conference.
    And now as we close this conference, even though we shall have a benediction, I should like to offer a brief prayer in these circumstances:

    O God, our Eternal Father, Thou great Judge of the Nations, Thou who art the governor of the universe, Thou who art our Father and our God, whose children we are, we look to Thee in faith in this dark and solemn time. Please, dear Father, bless us with faith. Bless us with love. Bless us with charity in our hearts. Bless us with a spirit of perseverance to root out the terrible evils that are in this world. Give protection and guidance to those who are engaged actively in carrying forth the things of battle. Bless them; preserve their lives; save them from harm and evil. Hear the prayers of their loved ones for their safety. We pray for the great democracies of the earth which Thou hast overseen in creating their governments, where peace and liberty and democratic processes obtain.

    O Father, look with mercy upon this, our own nation, and its friends in this time of need. Spare us and help us to walk with faith ever in Thee and ever in Thy Beloved Son, on whose mercy we count and to whom we look as our Savior and our Lord. Bless the cause of peace and bring it quickly to us again, we humbly plead with Thee, asking that Thou wilt forgive our arrogance, pass by our sins, be kind and gracious to us, and cause our hearts to turn with love toward Thee. We humbly pray in the name of Him who loves us all, even the Lord Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and our Savior, amen.

  32. Ana on November 15, 2007 at 3:02 am

    Regarding Julie’s parenthetical “not sure what argument you’d make for 3 Nephi” way up in #3:

    I would think Oliver Cowdery recognized the words and punctuated it the way he was used to reading it or at least thinking about it.

    I have a hard time imagining Joseph dictating the punctuation and an even harder time imagining punctuation to correlate with modern English punctuation in the Reformed Egyptian. But that’s just my mental image of the process.

    And I know I probably get way too interested in anything to do with commas and their ilk. It’s that irrepressible inner editor. Sometimes I think mine isn’t like everyone else’s.

  33. Martin Willey on November 15, 2007 at 12:24 pm

    Re: # 31: What a great example of prayer. I remember being inspired by it at the time, and was inspired again reading it now. There would be nothing vain in continuing to ask that God “bless the cause of peace and bring it quickly to us again,” or that He “forgive our arrogance, pass by our sins, be kind and gracious to us, and cause our hearts to turn with love toward” Him.

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