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In In Matthew 6:9, the Greek it literally says: "Thus therefore pray you" or "Οὕτως οὖν προσεύχεσθε ὑμεῖς".

Is Jesus saying that we should pray like that and only like that? Initially I would think not as Matthew records Jesus praying in many other ways too, but it seems like He is giving them a blanket "pray this" statement. So what is He saying?

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Two comments about the instruction of Jesus in Matt 6:9 -

  1. If Jesus had intended that we ONLY pray the prayer He gave we would have the exact wording recorded precisely. However, the version recorded in Luke 11:2-4 has quite different wording. So, which is correct? Probably neither! Both versions are clearly terse summaries of what Jesus said as no gospel records everything that Jesus said and did.

  2. The first word of Matt 6:9 is, Οὕτως (houtós) which is an adverb meaning, "in this manner". It does NOT mean that we should only pray this prayer but pray in this style. What is that style? Note the elements of Jesus model prayer:

  • recognition of the sovereignty of God
  • pray for the success of God's kingdom
  • pray to be obedient to God's will
  • pray for our necessities and recognize that all thing comes from the great and only provider, God.
  • ask forgiveness of our sins
  • ask for deliverance from sins
  • ask for patience with those who sin against us and a heart like God's

These seven elements form the model prayer which will differ from person to person as each person's needs and situation will be different.

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    +1 ... I would add that if we took Jesus' advice about prayer literally, then based on Matthew 6:6 we should ONLY pray in a closed inner room (closet) rather than with other family members. Commented Mar 16 at 4:29
  • +1. Great break down! I might need to format my prayers like this from now on.
    – Jason_
    Commented Mar 16 at 4:34
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    Jesus could have said, "When ye pray, say these words." That would settle the question firmly on the side of reciting these words and nothing else.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Mar 16 at 13:35
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    Indeed, if it was necessary for salvation that we shall not pray any other prayers, then Jesus would have warned us explicitly about it.
    – vsz
    Commented Mar 16 at 23:04
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Jesus presents this prayer as a model or example. He is not imposing a rigid formula for prayer. He is providing a framework for prayer. The Lord's Prayer serves as a template such as acknowledging God's holiness, seeking His will, asking for provision, seeking forgiveness, and seeking protection from temptation and evil.

Jesus's intention is for his disciples to understand how to approach God prayer. Throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus himself praying. At one point we see Jesus praying fervently in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest. This is how he prayed:

41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

So, while Jesus instructs his disciples to pray in the manner outlined in the Lord's Prayer, he does not intend to restrict their prayers to only those exact words or format.

Based on Dottards answer perhaps the acronym PRAYERS would be useful.

  • Proclaim: His Sovereignty
  • Request: His Kingdom
  • Ask: for Obedience
  • Yearn: for His Provision
  • Express: Forgiveness
  • Rely: on Deliverance
  • Seek: Patience
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    +1. Clever use of an acronym!!
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 16 at 20:27
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A retro- translation of the Lord's Prayer into Aramaic, the language believed to have spoken by Jesus, was attempted by Jack Kilmon, Bible scholar and researcher. The retro translation is available on his website Scriptorium.https://www.historian.net/newindex.html Believe it or not, the Prayer turns out to be in verses,with the qualities of a well written poem ! It is possible that Jesus had recited the Psalms- like prayer thousands of times and perfected it in the form of a beautiful poem, before teaching it to the disciples( In those days where writing down of things was difficult, poetic compositions helped people retain prayers in memory ) But then he gave them abundant freedom in tailoring the prayer to suit their need, by saying "Pray like this.. ".

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    Retro-translations are speculative and usually unhelpful. God could've given us the text in Aramaic if he wanted us to have it. Much better to actually focus on the text in the language that he did inspire. Which is what this question is asking about. I don't think this is really an answer to the question that was asked.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 24 at 2:23
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Sample Lord, teach us to pray. What Jesus gave the disciples was only a sample prayer. It was not a ritualistic form to be repeated over and over. Although many denominations recite this prayer during their Sunday services each week (along with other prayers). Nothing wrong with that.

Answer But to answer this Question, we merely need only go to all the prayers Jesus himself prayed during His 1/2 year ministry, and see how He prayed on other occasions. When we do so, we find a variety of prayers, each appealing to different needs, and asking the Father's direction, or intervention, in different wording.

Matthew 11:25-26; 17:21; 26:36-44; 27:46
Luke 3:21; 11:1; 22:32
John 11:41-42; 12:27-28; 17:1-26

Early Church We can also look at the scriptures in the rest of the New Testament, to see how the disciples prayed, and how they would have interpreted Jesus's saying: After this manner...

Acts 1:14; 4:24-31; 6:4; 12:5; 16:13

And then there are the Apostolic admonishments on how to pray found throughout their letters to the church congregations:

Romans 12:12,
Colossians 4:2,
Ephesians 6:18,
Philippians 4:6,
James 5:15-16,
1 Timothy 2:1.

Set Pattern? No, there is no set pattern, or wording, that is required when praying. God hears the feeblest of prayers of the weakest saints, as well as the most eloquently worded ones by theologians.

Sometimes the most eloquent prayer in a dire situation is merely, "Father, HELP!"

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