Jesus prayed many times. Remember the morning prayers in solitary places (Mark 1:35), the prayer before feeding the thousands (Matt 14:19), the prayer for Peter’s faith (Luke 22:32), the prayers in the garden of Gethsemane (Matt 26:36), and the glorious prayer in John 17.
But Jesus never prayed what is popularly called the Lord’s Prayer, and he would be a sinner if he did.
You know the one. It starts with “Our Father which art in heaven…” in Matthew 6:9.
In the context of Matthew 6 and in the parallel passage in Luke 11 Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray, not praying it himself.
“…one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” – Luke 11:1
He didn’t say “after this manner pray I”, but “after this manner therefore pray YE” (Matt 6:8). For this reason the so-called Lord’s Prayer would be more appropriately called the Disciples Prayer.
Why Jesus Could Not Pray the Lord’s Prayer
It should be obvious that Jesus never actually prayed the prayer repeated by millions (though Jesus instructed them not to pray using vain repetitions- Matt 6:7). He was merely teaching his disciples how to pray.
So what? What is important to understand is that if he did pray it, he would have been a sinner, and so is everyone else that prays it.
The prayer includes this line:
“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.” – Luke 11:4
Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, and knew no sin (1 Tim 3:16; Col 2:9; 2 Cor 5:21). Jesus had no sins to confess, and did not need to ask for forgiveness. He was without sin (Heb 4:15).
If Jesus prayed to “forgive me my sins”, he would either be a liar or admitting to be a sinner. So you see, Jesus could never pray this prayer since it would mean he had sins that need to be forgiven. This prayer was only for his disciples who were sinners.
Jesus never prayed this prayer and neither should we.
Why We Shouldn’t Pray this Prayer
Since Jesus was sinless, then it should be easy to understand why he could never pray this prayer, but what does that have to do with us? We are not God manifest in the flesh; we are not sinless; we are not Jesus and this much is true.
We know that we all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23), and certainly we need forgiveness.
However, according to the gospel of the grace of God, Christ from heaven is now offering his righteousness, through his blood, as forgiveness for all our sins (Col 1:14; Col 2:13).
In Matthew 6 God was teaching his twelve apostles over Israels (Matt 19:28) to pray to bring God’s Davidic kingdom to earth (Matt 6:10), to provide bread like manna in the wilderness (Matt 6:11), and to pray for conditional covenant forgiveness (Matt 6:12-15).
In Matthew 6 and Luke 11 when Christ taught his disciples to pray it was before the cross and before he revealed the gospel of the grace of God (Eph 3:1-2). Jesus taught Israel to pray according to their covenant with God, and not according to the revelation of the mystery of his finished work on the cross. The cross is nowhere found in Matthew 6.
The dispensation of God’s grace changed how we receive forgiveness which is now by faith in Christ’s finished work (Eph 1:7). For us to pray the so-called Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 would be tantamount to ignoring the cross of Christ as the basis of our forgiveness.
Praise God that now that God’s grace has been revealed, all men can be forgiven through the already shed blood of Christ (Eph 3:1-2; Rom 3:23-25). Once all our sins are forgiven through faith in Christ’s cross there is no more need to pray for forgiveness, but to thank God for what he has already done in us for Christ’s sake (Eph 4:32).
Jesus never prayed the so-called Lord’s prayer and now, if you trust the preaching of the cross, neither should you.