Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 contain two variations of what has come to be known of as "The Lord's Prayer." This is not the "Lord's Prayer" in the sense that the Lord offered it, for He had no sins to be forgiven. It is not the "Lord's Prayer" in the sense that it was meant to be repeated word-for-word as the only means by which man could successfully appeal to God. The two contexts in which the prayer is found indicate it was meant to be a model to guide us in our prayers, not a formula to be repeated.
In Matthew's account, the Lord is warning His disciples against the hypocritical prayers of the Pharisees and the vain repetitions of the heathens. "Therefore do not be like them... In this manner, therefore pray:" (Matt. 6:8-9). To recite the words over and over would reduce it to a "vain repetition" - something the Lord condemned in the previous verse (v. 7).
In Luke's account, the teaching follows a specific request from a disciple. "Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples'" (Luke 11:1). The Lord's example and practice of prayer led this disciple to realize he had much to learn on the subject, and he made this request.
While men may feel the need to communicate their petitions to God, we do not instinctively know how to accomplish this task. We have to learn how to pray acceptably and effectively. How should we address God? What should be included in our prayers? The model prayer was given by the Lord to meet this need. In the coming weeks we will make proper use of the "Lord's Prayer" by looking at the various lessons we need to learn from this model prayer.