New Living Translation

The Lord’s Prayer

I write this on a Sunday afternoon. In the church service this morning we recited The Lord’s Prayer, as we do most Sundays. But why are there so many variations in how different churches use this prayer? Here is one traditional form that is used in many Protestant churches. It is taken from the 1928 edition of The Book of Common Prayer, which is similar (but not identical) to the wording of Matthew 6:9-13 in the King James Version:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
For ever and ever. Amen

We’ve probably all stumbled over “trespasses” versus “debts.” The difference arises because The Book of Common Prayer uses “trespasses,” but the KJV reads, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” So different churches use one or the other of those formats.

But many churches use the NIV or the NRSV or the NLT or the ESV or the NKJV as their standard text. Those translations each translate the original Greek text of the prayer with slight variations in English wording. And the UBS Greek text—which is the base used by most modern translations—does not include the last sentence of the prayer. Accordingly, the RSV, NIV, NRSV, NLT, and ESV include the last sentence only in a footnote.

Where there is a multiplicity of options, many churches simply use the traditional language of the Lord’s Prayer, including the archaic pronouns thy and thine. My church, which uses ESV as the standard preaching text, has adopted the ESV format of the prayer for use in public worship, though we add the last sentence as in the traditional formats of the prayer:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
        but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

I must admit, I still stumble occasionally over the phrase “as we also have forgiven our debtors.” But even old dogs can learn new tricks if they put their minds to it. And since this blog is oriented primarily to the NLT, I will now reproduce the prayer as it is found in Matt 6:9-13 in the NLT:

Our Father in heaven,
        may your name be kept holy.
10May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
        as it is in heaven.
11Give us today the food we need,*
12and forgive us our sins,
        as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13And don’t let us yield to temptation,*
        but rescue us from the evil one.*
            6:11 Or Give us today our food for the day; or Give us today our food for tomorrow.
            6:13a Or And keep us from being tested.
            6:13b Or from evil. Some manuscripts add For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

I should also mention the Latin edition, which is still used by many Catholics. It is often called “The Pater Noster,” since the first two words of the prayer are Pater noster (“Our Father”). But in most English-speaking Catholic churches, the Lord’s Prayer is recited in English with wording identical to that found in The Book of Common Prayer, but without the doxology at the end.

Fascinating!

4 thoughts on “The Lord’s Prayer

  1. The online NLT that I use does not include “thy will be done” in its translation of the Lords prayer. Not sure which book company put it online. Just wanted someone to be aware of it. Thank you.

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