when you pray, say “Our father in heaven”
What does the Lord’s Prayer Mean?
A short line-by-line analysis. Click on the title links for more in-depth commentary.
Jesus teaches His disciples that God is our parent in Heaven. The Apostle Paul restates this by extorting the believer to address God as “Abba” (Aramaic for “Daddy”- the kind of intimate word that a child would use to his or her father) ” And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”” (Rom 8:15, NIV)
The first of seven requests in this prayer. “Hallowed” means holy. As we pray this line we are reminding ourselves that God is separate from us, completely pure and faultless. Here we become aware of our own frailty as we adore and worship the living God.
God’s kingdom is to do with His ways and order. So here we are asking that God’s ways happen here, as they are fully obeyed in Heaven.
The third request in this prayer is that God’s will occurs. Here we are aligning our will with God’s will, we are submitting ourselves to Him, and asking that His way triumphs.
We need God in all areas of our life (physical, spiritual and mental), and this is a daily need. We need to come back to God regularly, each day- indeed, many times each day and many ways, for we can quickly become independent and self-seeking. Jesus reiterates this daily dependency when he exhorts us to not “worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Math 6:34, NIV)
Different versions of this prayer use different words here – sometimes “trespasses”, “debts” or “sins” (click here for a explanation of this). Here we bring to mind the ways in which we have failed God and others, and ask the Lord for His forgiveness.
As we receive God’s forgiveness, we bring to mind anyone who we feel may have wronged us, and pardon them.
The sixth request in the Lord’s prayer is not to be in a place where temptation might overwhelm us. It is not wrong to be tempted or tested (Jesus was!). It is wrong to give in to this temptation.
The final request is for protection by our Father in heaven. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, he declared ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'(Math 4:4 NIV). In times of trial, Jesus recognises the Lord as His source of deliverance. Likewise we are to depend on God when evil is at our door.
The prayer finishes with a closing doxology, that is, a hymn of praise to God. Not all versions of the Lord’s prayer include this as many biblical scholars believe that this was added at a later date.