Over the past forty-two days, we have studied Jesus’ teaching on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:5–15), focusing specifically on the six petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (verses 9–13). If we want to experience God through prayer, we must:
- make time and space for God (verses 5–9a),
- focus on God’s powerful love for us (verse 9b),
- prioritize God’s agenda for our lives (verse 10),
- ask God for whatever we need (verse 11),
- seek God’s forgiveness and send it to others (verse 12),
- and trust God in trying times (verse 13).
In this epilogue, I want to conclude our study with a brief note about the traditional ending of the Lord’s Prayer: “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Like most modern translations, the New International Version (NIV)—which I have been using throughout this study—relegates the ending to a footnote rather than including it in the main body of the text. Why? Because the earliest and best manuscripts of Matthew’s Gospel do not include the ending. Nor do any copies of Luke’s Gospel. It appears that Jesus did not teach his disciples to pray, “for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” The ending was added sometime later in the early centuries of Christian history.
But should we continue to pray this ending even though it is merely traditional? As far as I am concerned, “Yes” and for three reasons:
First, the sentiment the ending expresses is wholly biblical. Compare it with the various doxologies in Revelation—4:15; 5:12, 13; 7:12; 11:15, 16–18; 12:10; 19:1, 2—for example. It says essentially what they say: God is the kind of God who deserves to rule over the creation he made, he has the power to do so, and he does so with such unfailing love and justice that he deserves all the honor and praise we can give him.
Second, we should continue to pray the traditional ending because it is useful for worship. Many Americans cannot summon up any sympathy for history and tradition. We always look for what is “new and improved” rather than what is “tried and true.” When it comes to ending a prayer, however, I doubt that the traditional ending can be improved upon for its beauty or truthfulness.
And third, we should continue to pray the traditional ending because, in the final analysis, God is what life is all about. When we pray, our first request is that his name—that is, his reputation, fame, and honor—be hallowed. Why not conclude the prayer by exalting his kingdom, power, and glory? Too often, we live life as if our concerns were all that mattered. The Bible teaches us, however, to be ruthless God-centered, God-focused, and God-saturated. As John Stott has written, “in the Lord’s Prayer, Christians are obsessed with God…. True Christian prayer is always a preoccupation with God and his glory.” Only as we give our best attention to God’s concerns will we find our own needs met (Matt. 6:33).
So let us pray to “our Father in heaven,” for his is “the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.”