In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Lord's Prayer

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Reference Resources
  • Bibliographies
  • Essay Collections
  • Text Criticism and Retro-Translation
  • Source Criticism

Biblical Studies Lord's Prayer
John Yieh
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 March 2024
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 March 2024
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0138


The Lord’s Prayer is a model prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to say as a group (Luke 11:2a, b). It reflects Jesus’ concerns for God’s holiness, God’s kingdom, and God’s will, and tells his followers which physical and spiritual needs they can ask God, their heavenly Father, to help meet. As a community prayer, it gives Christians identity, solidarity, and confidence as the beloved children of God. As a ritual practice, it strengthens the believers’ filial relationship with God, sets priorities for their missions, and provides divine reassurance, inner peace, and eschatological hope to support their daily struggles with the contingencies of their lives and the evil in the world. This prayer summarizes Jesus’ central message regarding the kingdom of God, so it is a major source for scholarly research on the historical Jesus. With its prominent use in catechisms and liturgies, it has shaped the belief and worship of the church so deeply that an increasing number of recent studies are devoted to its interpretation and influence in the history of reception and its particular role in liturgical theology and spiritual formation.

General Overviews

Ayo 1992 provides a general survey of exegetical issues and interpretive history of the Lord’s Prayer in an accessible style, helpful for students. Klein 2009 offers a critical review of current technical debates on the source-critical and redaction-critical studies of the Lord’s Prayer, noteworthy for scholars.

  • Ayo, Nicholas. The Lord’s Prayer: A Survey Theological and Literary. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992.

    This book summarizes scholarly discussions on the two versions in Matthew and Luke, and the exegetical issues of the Thou-petitions and the We-petitions. Ayo also reviews patristic commentaries on the prayer from Cyprian to Aquinas, down to Boff, and emphasizes the collective, mystical, eschatological, and simple nature of the prayer. It serves well as a general introduction to the study of the Lord’s Prayer.

  • Klein, Hans. “Das Vaterunser: Seine Geschichte und sein Verständnis bei Jesus und im frühen Christentum.” In Das Gebet im Neuen Testament: Vierte europäische orthodox-westliche Exegetenkonferenz in Sâmb̌ata de Sus, Rumänien, 4.–8. August 2007. Edited by Hans Klein, Vasile Mihoc, and Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr; unter Mitarb von Christos Karakolis, 77–114. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2009.

    This essay gives an updated survey and critical review of contemporary scholarly debates on the Lord’s Prayer regarding its doxological ending, the petition for the coming of the Spirit in textual tradition, the “Q” version reconstructed from Matthew and Luke, its originating setting, its relationship with Jesus’ proclamation, its place in the sayings tradition, and its meaning in Luke’s Gospel and in Matthew’s Gospel. It maps out new directions of research for students and scholars.

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