Matthew 6:9-13 (CSB):
“Therefore, you should pray like this:
 Our Father in heaven,
 your name be honored as holy.
 Your kingdom come.
 Your will be done
 on earth as it is in heaven.
 Give us today our daily bread.
 And forgive us our debts,
 as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And do not bring us into temptation,
 but deliver us from the evil one.

The Lord's Prayer feels completely normal to Christians, but that's because for two millennia we've been praying it.

What about for the disciples or Matthew's original audience? Was this prayer typical for first century Jews, or was it unusual, deliberately contrastive with how the Pharisees and other Jewish teachers taught people to pray, or even perhaps provocative?

Jesus does clearly teach some differences when he instructs how and when to pray (Matthew 6:5-8); this question is focused on the content and wording of this exemplar prayer.


2 Answers 2


Direct evidence of specific prayers from the pre-Christian era is limited. So, I first turned to the Psalms which can offer valuable insights into the nature and practice of Jewish prayer during this period.

Despite disagreement and uncertainty about a number of issues related to the Book of Psalms, scholars generally agree that the psalms were used in Israel's worship. The book is often referred to as "the Hymnbook of the Second Temple." [1]

Therefore, here is a comparison I made of some of the elements from the Psalms that can also be found in The Lord's Prayer:

Psalm Comparison:

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Within the Psalms we can see at least common themes that are likewise reflected in The Lord's Prayer.

Next I turned to the Shema:

The Jews were saying the Shema twice daily as early as the first century. The Shema’s reference to God’s kingdom is important. Jesus preached a lot about the “coming of the kingdom” (Mt. 3:22; 4:17; 12:28; 16:19; Mk. 1:15; 9:1; 14:25; Lk. 9:27; 10:9; 17:21; Jn. 3:5). [2]

Shema Comparison:

enter image description here

While this doesn't make a case for The Lord's Prayer being "typical" for first century Jews, it at least presents some common elements that may have been available and influenced Jewish prayer.


If one does not know whether a prayer is a typical Jewish prayer or not, how can prayers be delineated whether these prayers are typical Jewish prayers or not? What makes a prayer typically Jewish? Who decides whether a prayer is typically Jewish?

The attitude of one Jewish person praying in the 1st century may be different from another Jewish person who is also praying. More reason is needed to conclude which prayer is a typical 1st century Jewish prayer. An example of this is shown in Luke 18:9-14. Jesus is also a Jew, so his prayer could not be said to be not typical of Jews.

Luke 18:9-14 NASB

Now He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the [a]temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and began praying this in regard to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, crooked, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to raise his eyes toward heaven, but was beating his chest, saying, ‘God, be [b] merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other one; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

When Jesus said pray then this way, his advice was in contrast to those mentioned in Matthew 6:5-8, the hypocritical prayers of the religious leaders, the mindless repetitious prayers of pagans.

Note Jesus' use of the words "our Father", these could be taken to mean that Jesus recognized other worshippers of God. It will be interesting to know when Jesus started praying and how did he learn how to pray.

If there are Jewish prayers that show the Fatherhood and Kingship of God as its core like the Lord's prayer, then it could be said that the Lord's prayer has some similarities with some Jewish prayers.

  • This question really needs extra-Biblical evidence to answer. Parables from Jesus don't really indicate anything about typical teachings on prayer.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 24 at 5:54
  • @curiousdannii. Why not provide the really needed extra-biblical evidence so we can examine whether the Lord's prayer is a "typical 1st century Jewish prayer". Commented Mar 24 at 8:53
  • 1
    I don't know, that's why I asked.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 24 at 9:24
  • @curiousdannii. If Jesus prayed as a Jew, is his prayer not typically Jewish. How do you describe typical? Jesus already told his disciples how to pray , and if most of his disciples are Jewish, can you consider their prayers Jewish? If they are Jewish, are their prayers considered typically Jewish, if not what prayers do you consider as typically Jewish? Commented Mar 24 at 9:52
  • 1
    @curiousdannii. I comment and don't chat. It was you who said this question needs extra biblical evidence. You say asking about the cultural context is commonplace here. But what is not common is the typical Jewish prayers that you say are the extra -biblical evidence needed to examine this q. Would they still be called extra biblical if they are commonplace in the Bible?. I asked the clarification because I don't find them common in the Bible, I am interested how others can show the typical Jewish prayers in the 1st century . Commented Mar 24 at 11:27

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