Are you confused by what the Lord’s Prayer actually means? Have you ever thought much on what you’re actually saying when you pray the Lord’s Prayer? I grew up just reciting it during church services without much thought at all as to what it actually means.
But the Lord’s Prayer shouldn’t be considered meaningless in the slightest. Instead it is a wonderful tool that Jesus gave us to instruct and guide us on how we should pray. The Lord’s Prayer was given to us during Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:9-13. In it Jesus lays out a template for how we should be praying.
Although many people know this passage of the Bible by heart, it’s not necessary that you recite it on a daily basis, or even once a week. Instead, think of it as guideline for how you should structure your prayers.
In case you are not familiar with the Lord’s Prayer, here is the NIV version of the entire prayer:
Does the Lord’s Prayer make sense to you? It didn’t to me at first. But once we break it down, it will make complete sense. Promise. 🙂 If you ever feel like you are lost in prayer, and find your mind wandering and not able to focus, come back to the Lord’s Prayer and let it guide you on how to pray. Okay, ready to break down the Lord’s Prayer meaning? Let’s do it!
The Lord’s Prayer: What Does it Mean?
1. Our Father in Heaven
When we address God in prayer, we should think of Him as our spiritual or heavenly Father. Similar to how our parents are responsible for birthing our bodies, God birthed our souls. He created us and made us all unique, in His image, and with love.
The ancient Greek word for father is “abba”, which more equivalently translates to daddy or papa. I love this because this would mean that the scriptures are actually suggesting we should address God even more intimately than simply referring to Him as father. To refer to your father as “daddy” is the most intimate, loving, and child-like term that a person could use for their father.
Imagine, this is how we should not only address God, but how we should think of our relationship with Him on a regular basis.
2. Hallowed Be Your Name
“Hallowed” is referring to how we should keep God’s name holy. Begin your prayers by praising His name. After all, God is perfect, good, just, and holy, and deserves to be praised simply because of who He is.
We can have a deep intimate relationship with God, but we should always remember His holiness. He’s a close friend, but not an equal.
The Hebrew name of God used in the Bible is “Yahweh”. During that time, it was common to worship many gods, but the use of the name “Yahewh” set God apart from any other god because He is THE God. His name alone is holy.
PS: If you’re used to hearing “hallowed be thy name”, don’t let this confuse you. “Thy” is equivalent to “your” in modern English. So, same same. 🙂
3. Your Kingdom Come
The Kingdom of God already exists in heaven, but this line is referring to the reign of God when Christ returns.
We should also pray for the growth of the kingdom here on earth. We can pray for the saving of lives, the growth of the church, and all of the people who still feel lost and without hope.
4. Your Will Be Done on Earth
When the Kingdom of God comes, the perfect will of God will be done here on earth. In this way, earth will be like heaven. However, since we have no clue when that will happen, there are definitely things we can do right now.
For now, we can pray that we are able to carry out God’s will in our lives on a daily basis. It is through prayer that we discern what God’s will is for our life. Sometimes “God’s will” can sound like a super intimidating or “churchy” term, but it’s actually quite simple. You can seek God’s will by simply asking what God thinks you should do with your life.
Some great questions are:
- What is God’s purpose for you here on earth?
- What college should you go to?
- What career path should you take?
- Who should you marry?
Make a point to keep God first and seek His will and not your own).
5. As it is in Heaven
This line is to remind us that God’s perfect will is already happening in heaven. Here on earth it is a daily struggle to fulfill and do God’s will. But fulfilling His will is the goal and it is definitely worth the battle. We should make it a goal to fulfill the will of God on earth, as it is already being done in heaven.
6. Give Us Today Our Daily Bread
This one doesn’t seem very intuitive at all, but Jesus is saying that we should pray for our daily needs. There is no shame in asking God for the things we want. James 4:2 says, “You have not because you ask not”.
Another favorite comes from 1 John 5:14, “Now this is the confidence we have in Him, that if we ask for anything according to His will, He heard us”.
So, this verse is saying that we should keep God’s will first (see point #4) and also feel free to ask for the things we want and need in this life.
7. And Forgive Us Our Debts
The words “debts” or “trespasses” are the same as “sins”. Since we are all humans, that means we are all also sinners. As much as we try, we still mess up, and we are constantly in need of forgiveness from our Heavenly Father.
Our sin separates us from God, and that is why it is important to sincerely ask for His forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness should be an important part of our prayer life.
8. As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus also teaches on the importance of forgiving others. In Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus says, “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins”.
Forgiving others is haaaaard. No one ever said it was easy. The deeper the wound, the harder it is to forgive someone who has hurt you. Similarly, we find that the people who sin the greatest are the ones who are the most passionate and thankful for God’s forgiveness.
If you are having trouble forgiving someone, ask God for help in opening your heart. He will help you and lead you.
9. And Lead Us Not into Temptation
This part of the prayer is honestly the one I have struggled with the most. Why would God lead me into temptation? Why should I have to pray He doesn’t? Like, come on God. Just don’t lead me into temptation, and then I won’t have to pray you don’t do it. Anyone with me?
But then again, James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one”.
Matthew 4:1 says, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”.
So, God is not the one who does the tempting, buuuuut He does bring you into the presence of many tests and temptations. You might wonder why would He do that? Well, just living LIFE is full of temptations. You wake up in the morning and think, do I want to make a healthy breakfast, or do I want a pop tart? Is God necessarily leading you into temptation with the pop tart? I don’t think so, Tim. I think life is full of choices. There is both good and evil in this world, and we are called to choose the good.
This line of the prayer is included so that when we meet these temptations, we should ask for God’s help in not stepping inside the temptation.
Another way of looking at it is that as we advance spiritually, new and more powerful temptations will come our way. Are you not tempted by the pop tart anymore? That’s wonderful, but how strong are you against the mac and cheese? That is why it is important to pray that we aren’t given anything too tempting until we are spiritually ready to resist it.
10. But Deliver Us From the Evil One
You might notice that this line doesn’t just say “deliver us from evil”, but instead “deliver us from the evil one”. This isn’t just referring to bad things, but to Satan himself who is the one who tempts.
We are first to pray that we don’t enter into Satan’s schemes, and if we do, that God will deliver us from his grasp.
If you’re curious about the line “for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, Amen”, you might be interested to discover that it is well-established that this line didn’t exist in the earliest copies of the book of Matthew. Instead it was added to certain translations such as the King James Version. What’s even more interesting is Jesus never ended His prayers with “amen” and Jesus never used it when talking to his Father or when teaching us to talk with Him. So, I’ll let you do what you will with that information. 🙂
I hope breaking down the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer is helpful for you! Staying in constant communication and prayer with God might be hard sometimes, but that is why Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer to help us out. You shouldn’t feel the need to recite it verbdom, but instead use it as a template for how you should be structuring your prayers. 🙂
Does the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer make sense? Let me know in the comments below!
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