Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Something About the Doxology of the Lord's Prayer

Tomorrow evening will bring the last of our congregation's Wednesday Lenten midweek devotional services. We've been considering how we can deepen our prayer lives by looking at the Lord's Prayer and tomorrow, we'll focus on the sixth and seventh petitions: "And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil."

Of course, in Lutheran circles at least, we don't usually conclude praying the Lord's Prayer with these petitions. So, some might wonder why I’m not going to talk about, what is for us, the last part of the Lord’s Prayer: “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen,” the phrase we call, the Doxology.

There are several reasons. First of all, I’ve run out of Wednesdays in Lent. Of course, there is one more Wednesday, next week. But we’ll be worshiping together at Saint Matthew on the evenings of Maundy Thursday (April 1) and Good Friday (April 2) next week. People don’t need to overdose on sermons in any seven-day period!

But another reason is that, as you can see for yourself by reading both Matthew and Luke, the doxology was not part of Jesus’ prayer. Our Roman Catholic friends are technically right for not including “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen” with the Lord’s Prayer. (These words are part of Roman Catholic worship, though they're not offered immediately after the seventh petition of the Lord's Prayer. Lutherans who try to "blend in" while attending Roman Catholic Masses often unintentionally “out” themselves by moving onto the Doxology when other worshipers have closed their mouths. That results in red faces for we Lutherans and knowing laughter from the Catholics.)

As John Brokhoff explains in his book, Pray Like Jesus, the words of the Doxology “were added by the church early in the second century to round out the prayer for use in worship.” The words themselves are borrowed from two passages of the Old Testament. One is Daniel 4:3:
How great are [God's] signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his sovereignty is from generation to generation.
The other, from a prayer of King David, is 1 Chronicles 29:11:
Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.
When I first became a Christian through the ministry of a Lutheran congregation some thirty-four years ago, I remember being surprised to see the words, “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen,” called “The Doxology” by Martin Luther in The Small Catechism. I thought the Doxology was that thing that the Methodists I grew up with sang when Christians got together for potlucks (and which we sing as our Offertory at Saint Matthew). You know, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow…”

But, it turns out that there are lots of doxologies. The word, doxology, is a compound from the Greek in which the New Testament was originally written: doxos means glory and logos means word. A doxology is a word of glory to God.

So, though Jesus didn’t teach the prayer as ending in this way, whenever we use the doxology with the Lord's Prayer in our worship together, we begin by asking that God’s Name will be hallowed and we end by hallowing His Name ourselves with our praise.

4 comments:

Beth said...

My best friends from high school were Catholic. Used to skip school to go to church with them. (Thought I was getting away with pretending to be Catholic.) Outed and red-faced many times, and now I know why. Thanks. Beth M.

Spencer Troxell said...

I think you left out an o in the word 'doxology' in the post-title.

Just being polite. There are some friends who won't tell you when you have something hanging out of your nose, or a piece of food on your face, or if your zipper is down. I'm not one of those people. 'Do unto others', you know?

Spencer Troxell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Daniels said...

Thank you, Spencer. You are a friend. I habitually drop that "o" while typing the word, for some reason. With no spell-check for the post-titles, I didn't catch it.

Beth: I've done that myself on many occasions. Two of my three best friends from high school days are Catholic and have gone to Mass with one of them many times.

God bless!