The Lord’s Prayer v. The Lord’s Prayer

A common criticism of the Book of Mormon is that Joseph Smith was so uncreative that he simply lifted entire portions of the King James Bible and dumped it into the Book of Mormon (and some members wish that Mormon/Joseph Smith went easy on the Isaiah, but it’s good for them in the end). One such “uncreative” passage is when Jesus visits the inhabitants in the Americas and teaches them the Lord’s Prayer as found in Matthew 6. The prayer, along with the Sermon on the Mount, is repeated verbatim by the Savior — or so a lot of people think. There are actually some surprising differences between the King James Lord’s Prayer and the Book of Mormon Lord’s Prayer, and it raises some really interesting questions.

The following is a verse by verse comparison of the two passages:

New Testament Lord’s Prayer Book of Mormon Lord’s Prayer
After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

__________

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name.

__________

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

__________

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

__________

Give us this day our daily bread.

__________

This passage is missing in the Book of Mormon.

__________

And forgive us our debts,

as we forgive our debtors.

__________

And forgive us our debts,

as we forgive our debtors.

__________

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil:

For thine is the kingdom,

and the power, and the glory,

for ever. Amen.

__________

And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

and the power, and the glory,

forever. Amen.

__________

There are two notable omissions in the Book of Mormon Lord’s Prayer (and no additions). The first omission is the line, “Thy kingdom come,” which would make sense as this is post-Resurrection Jesus, and with his Earthly mission fulfilled, the kingdom has, in a sense, already arrived. After all, throughout his entire ministry, Jesus kept telling people that the kingdom of God was at hand. Now, with the kingdom established, the line could be considered no longer necessary (though there are theological/spiritual reasons why we might still need this line in our hearts).

The second omission makes less sense. The Book of Mormon Lord’s Prayer makes no mention of asking for our daily bread. Why the omission? Is there something significantly “un-LDS” about asking for our daily bread (I would venture no)? Did Joseph Smith simply forget while writing it down? It’s somewhat of a mystery. This sentiment is certainly not missing entirely from the Book of Mormon. Amulek, a Book of Mormon missionary, preaches a sermon where he implores people to pray for, in essence, their daily bread:

Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you; Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save. Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him. Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks. Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening. Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies. Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness. Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them. Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase. But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness (Alma 34:17-26).

So why the omission? Some would point this out as an example that the Book of Mormon is uninspired, but I would disagree. Such a pittance does not really detract from the fact that the Book of Mormon is an incredibly robust piece of devotional literature. What makes it feel intentional as an omission is the fact that the first omission kind of makes sense. But at the same time, my personal opinion is that it could have simply been a piece of human error — perhaps young Joseph Smith had a hard time memorizing this prayer during his youth and always left out the “give us this day our daily bread” part. Then, while reciting the Book of Mormon to his scribe, childhood practice took over and he omitted it once again. I admit this is a somewhat fancypants-post-modern, totally unsubstantiated explanation. But is there any possible theological explanation for the omission? If there is, I can’t think of any at the moment.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “The Lord’s Prayer v. The Lord’s Prayer

  1. Well, there’s a possible historical explanation. What if that phrase simply wasn’t on the Gold Plates that he translated from? Then the question becomes, why wouldn’t Jesus pray for ‘daily bread’ in this case?

    • Ted

      That is my question, really, if there is some kind of theological explanation, because it wouldn’t really make sense for Jesus to leave it out; at least, I can’t think of any purposeful reason for it, and an omission in such a prayer, if intentional, should have some kind of significance.

  2. Beth

    I have it on good authority that the phrases not present in the 3rd Nephi version are also not found in the earliest extant copies of the New Testament written in Greek.

    • Ted

      Is that true? That would be really interesting if it was! I wonder how you could get a source on that, though. Proving things to not exist are much harder than proving that things do exist.

  3. Beth

    My source is Thomas Wayment, a professor of relgion at BYU. I’m sure you can contact him for more information.

  4. Pingback: New Lord Prayer

  5. Bill

    I found the following commentary helpful in my search for understanding…
    According to McConkie, Millet, and Top, it is noteworthy that the phrase “Give us this day our daily bread,” found in Matthew, is missing from the Bountiful sermon. This omission, though subtle, is intentional. In Galilee, the counsel to pray for daily bread, though appropriate and praiseworthy for all members or the Church, was directed specifically to the Twelve, those who would serve full-time missions and would work without purse or scrip. Their daily prayer needed to be for food and drink in order to sustain life. In Bountiful the phrase is omitted, inasmuch as this portion of the sermon is directed to the entire multitude, a people whose daily work would sustain them (see 3 Nephi 12:1). [Joseph F. McConkie, Robert L. Millet, Brent L. Top, “Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. IV., p. 83]

  6. You’ve all missed the biggest problem of the doxology which is not part of the original biblical texts. It came into use as Catholic liturgical prayer, and was later included into English translations of the bible, but was never part of those translations from the Latin Vulgate. There is a big difference from a prayer that originates from the people of the Church and the words that Jesus spoke. FAIR’s position that these were truly the words of Jesus in The Book of Mormon, and therefore the biblical text in corrupted is illogical and irrational. Even if Jesus had spoken words to this effect, they certainly would not be identical with the liturgical wording as it was translated. Why can’t Mormons admit that Joseph took shortcuts and pasted and copied the KJV text?

    • Ted

      That’s a great point and now you’ve got me searching through the history of both development and usage of the Lord’s Prayer as liturgy!

      I agree that it is totally a possibility that Joseph Smith could have cribbed entire portions of the KJV text as a shortcut while translating/writing (depending on your view) of the Book of Mormon, but there are some really interesting changes/revisions/additions embedded throughout the large, quoted portions. I don’t have a whole lot of time right now to comment on it further, but I should probably sit down and go through it and try to put together some stuff that discusses some of those weird oddities.

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