The Disciples' Prayer by Hugo McCord

David R. Kenney

The late brother McCord wrote this book, The Disciples’ Prayer, in 1954 as Vice President of Central Christian College (now Oklahoma Christian University). McCord’s scholarship is well known. He received degrees from Freed-Hardeman College (now University), University of Illinois, and a doctorate from Southern Baptist Seminary. Brother McCord’s dissertation was on the supposed “Synoptic Problem” which I find of interest since it is a theory of many modernists who attack the Bible. 

The “Synoptic Problem” claims there are discrepancies, even contradictions between Matthew, Mark, and Luke. It even goes so far as to suggest an imaginary author called “Q” from whom the gospel writers had to borrow. Some suggest that Mark’s gospel was written first and Matthew had to borrow from it. Imagine that! Matthew, an apostle who was with Jesus during His ministry, had to borrow from Mark, who was not an apostle. Difficult to believe? Indeed. 

Occasionally, McCord’s writings point out how these critics overlook certain realities that contradict their theories. For example, McCord’s chapter on “Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread” discusses the word “daily” and how far modernists have missed the mark: “Many scholars have doubted that the word “daily,” epiousion, in this petition is a faithful translation. Actually, some great scholars have been unfamiliar with epiousion. Origen (c. 185-254) was bold to say that Matthew and Luke just made up the word. But Chrysostom, Gregory Nyssen, and Basil of Caesarea—all eminent Greek-speaking scholars—thought that epiousion really means “daily”… Centuries elapsed, and modern scholars, still unfamiliar with epiousion, refused to accept the translation “daily” (needful). However, thanks to penetrating scholarship (?), the stigma of coining the word was taken off Matthew and Luke, and laid on the broad shoulders of imaginary author “Q,” from whom Matthew and Luke copied (?). So said modernists Moulton and Milligan as late as 1919. But in 1925 Q was exonerated from coining the word, for, lo, it was found in an old Greek housekeeping book.” (Page 62)

The Disciples’ Prayer discusses the model of prayer Jesus gave in the “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew and, later, to a smaller group in Luke. These two accounts are not parallel in the chronological but topical sense since the Sermon on the Mount is five chapters before the model prayer of Luke 11. Also, the wording is not identical in these models which indicate it was never intended to be recited repetitively as some do—a practice Jesus warned about just prior, in Matthew’s account.

The churches of Christ are not the only ones to point out this matter! I found the words of Martin Luther of interest on this, and more pungent: “Thus, as we see, it was carried on in monasteries, nunneries and the whole ecclesiastical crowd, that seem to have had nothing else to do in their calling than to weary themselves daily so many hours, and at night besides, with singing and reading their Horas; and the more of this they could do, the holier and greater worship they called it. And yet among them all there was not one that uttered a real prayer from his heart: but they were all filled with the heathenish notion that one must tire God and one’s self with crying and muttering, as if he neither could nor would otherwise hear; and they have thereby accomplished nothing else than to waste their time and punish themselves … with their praying.” —Martin Luther, Commentary on the Sermon On The Mount, Philadelphia, PA: Lutheran Publication Society, 1892, pp. 240-269.

Brother McCord does a thoughtful and insightful analysis of what some commonly refer to as “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Model Prayer.” McCord points out that it was never a prayer that the Lord actually prayed so to call it “The Lord’s Prayer” would be incorrect unless one is speaking of a pattern of prayer taught by the Lord. The study of prayer has been enriching and this small volume spoke volumes compared to other works of longer length I have examined. -29 Flora Dr., Bedford, OH 44146-2011. For additional book reviews, visit

Return to West Virginia Christian