Why doesn't the Lord's Prayer include thanksgiving?
Despite numerous exhortations and commands in the Bible to give thanks, the Lord's Prayer includes no direct expression of gratitude to God.
Here is the Lord's prayer: "Pray then like this: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil'" (Matthew 6:9–13).
Jesus modeled prayer numerous times, and many of His prayers included thanksgiving. For example, Jesus gave thanks prior to the feeding of the 5,000 and of the 4,000 (Matthew 14:16–21; 15:35–38) and gave thanks at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26–27). He gave thanks as He prayed for Lazarus to be resurrected (John 11:41) and for the way God revealed things to the poor, ignorant, and obscure (Matthew 11:25).
As Jesus teaches the disciples to pray using the Lord's Prayer, it's not that He is forgetting or overlooking anything. As He teaches about prayer, He gives a contrast to the public, repeated, and self-piousness of the Pharisees' and Gentiles' routines of praying.
Jesus instituted a new way to pray—privately, addressing God in the familiar "Father," and with humbleness. His prayer first focuses on God Himself. God is above in heaven. He is to be honored. His will is invited. Then, Jesus' prayer shifts to our prayers for ourselves. First, a prayer of recognition of God's provision every day. Then, for forgiveness. Finally, for deliverance from evil.
Thanksgiving is not specifically spelled out, but does seem implicit in the prayer—from recognition of God as our heavenly Father to a reliance upon Him for provision and protection. We pray with a thankful heart.
Now, to be sure, because Jesus doesn't out and out say "thank you" in the Lord's Prayer, we should not neglect thankfulness as a major theme of our time with God. Jesus gives us plenty of examples (see above) of being thankful. First Thessalonians 5:16–18 says, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Clearly thanksgiving in our prayers is appropriate.
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