However, what does the Lord’s prayer mean?
In this post we’re going to break down the meaning of the Lord’s prayer verse-by-verse so you can have a proper understanding and application of how to use this powerful prayer.
What is the Lord’s Prayer?
However, what is the Lord’s Prayer? The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer Jesus taught His disciples after they asked Him how they should pray.
The disciples had watched Jesus pray, and when He had finished, they asked Him, “Lord, teach us how to pray as well.” (Luke 11:1)
And Jesus responded with a prayer that we now call, the Lord’s Prayer.
However, the Lord’s Prayer was never meant to be a prayer we should recited word-for-word, as if these specific words, in this specific order, have some sort of power and influence of their own.
Instead, the Lord’s Prayer was meant to be a guide, or a template, for how we should structure our own prayers. Think of the Lord’s Prayer meaning as a wonderful tool Jesus gave us to provide insight into what’s truly important to God when we pray.
The Lord’s Prayer Scripture
In Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4 we find this popular passage of Scripture that is widely known as the Lord’s Prayer, and for some known as Our Father’s Prayer.
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 (ESV)
The Meaning of the Lord’s Prayer Verse-by-Verse
Okay, now we’re going to break down the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer verse-by-verse! This is the best way to truly understand the Lord’s prayer meaning.
Verse 9: Our Father in Heaven, Hallowed Be Your Name
The meaning behind how the Lord’s prayer opens is everything in regards to our true identity in Christ. Jesus tells us to begin our prayers by addressing God as “Our Father” because it is a constant reminder of our true identity as God’s children.
Read More: What Does It Mean to Be Children of God?
When you come to Christ, you are born again as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) the same way a newborn baby is a new person.
In the same way, just as a newborn baby is born into an earthly family, when you are reborn spiritually you are reborn into the Family of God.
And in this spiritual family, we are sons and daughters of God — God’s very own children.
Jesus’ desire for us is to have an intimate and loving relationship with the Father that is one of child-like love and affection.
Hallowed Be Your Name
Let’s talk about the word hallowed. Hallowed is an archaic way of saying that something should be made holy. By praying “hallowed be your name” you are saying that God’s name is a holy name that should be revered, honored, and respected.
Fun Fact: The Hebrew name for God in the Bible is “Yahweh” and whenever the Bible uses the name “Yahewh”, it is a way to set apart the God of Israel as the One True God, verses any other false god.
Secondly, by beginning your prayer with “hallowed be your name” you are beginning your prayer by praising His name, which is in alignment with Psalm 100:4 which tells us to enter into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.
“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to Him; bless His name!”
Psalm 100:4 (ESV)
It’s a reminder that our God is a perfect, good, just, and holy God who deserves to be praised, not for what He’s done, but simply because of who He is.
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. 🙂
Verse 10: Your Kingdom Come, Your Will Be Done, on Earth as It Is In Heaven
YAY, now we’re getting into some of my favorite parts of the Lord’s Prayer!
The verse “Your Kingdom Come” is saying that we should pray that the Kingdom of God comes to earth. Now, the Kingdom of God already exists in heaven, but as believers in Jesus Christ we have the power and authority to call down heaven here on earth.
Yes, you heard correctly. 🙂
In this verse Jesus is telling believers that they should be declaring that the Kingdom of God should be made manifest here on earth.
However, you might be wondering, “Umm…so how does the Kingdom of God come to earth exactly?”
It comes through the spreading of the gospel to unbelievers. In fact, the rejoining of heaven and earth through the person of Jesus is what the story of the Bible is all about!
One of my favorite resources for understanding the Bible as a whole is Max Lucado’s book, The Story! Click here or the image below to view.
Heaven and earth were once fully united, then driven apart, and is being brought back together again through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Confused? No worries.
The BEST explanation of this is from The Bible Project, which you can watch below:
Your Will Be Done
The Kingdom of God comes to earth when the perfect will of God is done on earth, just as it is done in heaven. This is a tough one because for God’s will to be done on earth, it requires us, the believers in Jesus Christ, to live our lives in complete obedience and surrender to His perfect will.
Now, the reason this is so tough is because even for the believers who desire to do God’s perfect will, we still experience the battle between the desires of our flesh and the desires of God.
This battle between God’s will and our will is what Paul is talking about when He says:
“Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.”
Romans 7:21-23 (NIV)
It’s not easy, but we are called to crucify our flesh daily (Galatians 5:24) and lay down our own will, desires, and wants so they can be replaced with God’s will, desires, and wants.
I know laying down our own desires can sound scary, uncomfortable, and nearly impossible, but that is why Jesus urges us to pray for this to happen. Jesus knows our weaknesses and knows that in order for us to do this we can’t rely on our own strength, but instead we must rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit who lives on the inside of us.
On Earth As it is in Heaven
This line is a constant reminder to all believers that God’s perfect will is already happening in heaven, even though it is not always being done on earth. Here on earth, it may be a daily struggle to crucify the flesh and fulfill God’s will, but not in heaven.
In heaven angels are released when we pray because of the power and authority we carry as the sons and daughters of God.
Because of this you can have assurance that your prayer requests are heard and that all of heaven’s armies are backing you as you make decisions, and live your life, in obedience to God’s Word.
On Earth as It Is in Heaven is a great book for how to pray more effective prayers, click here or the image below to view.
However, even if you don’t see the fruition of your prayers being done in your life immediately, don’t give up! Keep praying!
We need to keep praying for God’s will to be done on earth because just like in the book of Daniel, you might not see the effects of your prayer immediately, but that doesn’t mean your prayer wasn’t heard in heaven immediately.
There could be a delay simply because of the battle that wars between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness.
“Then he (an angel) said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. But for twenty-one days the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way.”
Daniel 10:12-13 (NLT)
So never give up, keep pressing in!
Verse 11: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
By praying that the Lord “gives us our daily bread”, Jesus is saying that we should pray for our daily needs.
So, let’s look at the order in which Jesus instructs us to pray:
- We are to first praise our Heavenly Father,
- Then pray for the Kingdom,
- and then we are to pray for our personal needs.
So, we are to first enter into His gates with praise and thanksgiving. Then we are to pray for what matters the most to God, which is for His will to be done on earth just as it is done in heaven.
It is then that we should make our own personal requests known to God.
Now, if you’re like me you might be tempted to think, “Wait, does this mean God doesn’t care about our personal needs since asking for our needs comes third in line when we pray?”
Not at all.
It’s all about honor and respect. When we pray, we should treat the Father like a person, and not like a magic genie.
Think of it like this: If you were having a conversation with a friend, it would be rude to have just a one-way conversation where you talk only about yourself, right?
Instead, it would be much more respectful to greet each other, maybe compliment their shirt, ask how their day is going, or how they’re doing.
It’s the same with God.
We should begin by praising Him because He is worthy of our praise, and then we should ask Him what’s on His heart today. What troubles His heart? How can we pray for the Kingdom today?
THEN we come to God and tell Him what troubles our heart.
Which brings me to my next point, there is no shame in asking God for the things we want.
On Earth as It Is in Heaven is a great book for how to pray more effective prayers, click here or the image below to view.
James 4:2 says:
“You do not have, because you do not ask.”
James 4:2 (ESV)
So, never be afraid to ask God for what you want, whether big or small. Your Heavenly Father loves you and it is His great joy to give you good gifts when you ask.
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Matthew 7:11 (NIV)
Verse 12: And Forgive Us Our Debts, As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors
This verse is saying that when we pray, we are to ask God to give us for our sins, just as we forgive others for their sins against us.
FYI: If a Bible translation says “debts”, or “trespasses”, these words are referring to the sins committed against God or another person.
Now, it’s important to remember that as a believer in Jesus Christ you have been saved, redeemed, washed clean of sin, and are a new creation in Christ.
This means you are no longer dominated by your sinful nature but are now controlled by the Holy Spirit because you have the Spirit of the Living God dwelling on the inside of you.
“But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.”
Romans 8:9 (NLT)
However, you are also still a human being living in a fallen world where you have to wrestle with, and overcome, your sinful nature on a daily basis.
So, even though you have the power of the Holy Spirit on the inside of you helping you overcome sin, God also knows your limitations and where you might fall into sin occasionally despite being born again. When this happens, our good and gracious Heavenly Father is willing and able to continue forgiving your sins (whether past or present) when you cry out to Him for forgiveness.
Psalm 86:5 says:
“O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.”
Psalm 86:5 (NLT)
So, don’t let the enemy make you feel unworthy of God’s love if you are a born-again believer who still wrestles with your sinful nature.
1 John promises us this:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9 (NIV)
Jesus died on the cross so our sins could be forgiven, and we could be made right with God once again. This is the good news of the gospel, so when we ask the Lord to forgive us of our sins, we can rest assured that they have been forgiven and we are in right standing with our Heavenly Father.
As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors
The second part of this verse can be troubling for some because here we see Jesus create a connection between our sins against God being forgiven with our ability to forgive others of their sins against us.
Does this verse somehow compromise the gospel in that our salvation is now works-based in our ability to forgive others, verses being saved by grace through faith?
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”
Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)
If this is you then rest assured, this verse is not talking about salvation. You are saved by your faith in Jesus Christ alone.
However, what we do see here is an interesting correlation between us forgiving others and God forgiving us.
In fact, the Bible actually says that if we refuse to forgive others for their sins against us, it can actually hinder the Lord from forgiving our sins against Him.
Mark 11:25 says:
“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”
Mark 11:25 (NLT)
Again, in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says this (FYI: I don’t normally quote from the Message translation, but I really love the way it translates this verse):
“This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God.
Matthew 5:23-24 (MSG)
So, what we see here is Jesus stressing the importance of reconciling ourselves with others first before we come to God asking for our own forgiveness.
For more insight, I encourage you to watch the below YouTube video which helps clarify this verse even more:
Lastly, if you struggle to forgive, you are not alone. The deeper the wound, the harder it is to forgive, and the Lord knows that which is why I want to encourage you to ask the Lord to help you forgive. Call out to Him. Ask Him to help soften your heart and allow you to forgive those who have sinned against you.
Verse 13: And Lead Us Not into Temptation, But Deliver Us From Evil
Honestly, it’s really hard for me to read this verse without thinking, “Does God really lead us into temptation?”
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.”
James 1:13 (ESV)
So then, what does this verse mean??
Well, here’s the best way that I’ve been able to wrap my head around it.
Full Disclosure: This understanding and explanation comes from the teachings and wisdom of theologian, John Piper.
All our experiences are tests from God, and all our experiences are also temptations from Satan.
Our experiences fall into one of two categories: they are either positive and pleasant, or they are negative and associated with pain.
Check out Passing the Test of Faith for more on the tests and trials of God, click here or the image below to view.
If they are pleasant, they are a test from God testing us to see if we will thank Him for the blessings in our life, considering Him better and more valuable than even our most beautiful blessings and experiences.
However, Satan is also at work in the blessings of our life. Satan takes that pleasant experience and turns it into a temptation for us to ignore the Lord’s goodness in our life and instead, idolize it.
So, it’s both a test and a temptation. Will we thank God for the blessing in our life, keeping Him first, or will we take the blessing for ourselves and turn it into an idol?
If it’s a painful experience, God’s test is to see if we will trust Him through the experience. Will we trust in His wisdom and goodness despite our pain? Surrendering every hurt and frustration over to Him and continuing to believe that He is a good God who is in control of all things?
This is a true test of faith.
However, what the devil wants is for us to blame and curse our Lord and Savior, tempting us to fall away from our faith and trust in the Lord. He whispers thoughts in our head like, “How could a good God allow you to go through something so painful?”
The enemy’s goal is to confuse and distort our perspective of God, calling into question if He really is a good and loving Heavenly Father.
So, you see, God wants us to trust Him, the devil wants us to curse Him.
The devil wants us to idolize the pleasures in our life and refuse to thank God, and God wants us to thank Him and consider Him more valuable than even our greatest blessings and most pleasant experiences.
For more info check out Passing the Test of Faith for more on the tests and trials of God, click here or the image below to view.
So, taking into consideration that understanding of test and temptation we ask, “What does Jesus mean when He says, ‘lead us not into temptation’?”
Well, we know that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1). The Holy Spirit Himself didn’t tempt Jesus, the devil did, but Jesus was 100% lead by the Holy Spirit to be tempted.
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
Matthew 4:1 (ESV)
So, God is not the one who does the tempting, but He does bring you into the presence of many tests and temptations.
So, I believe that what this verse means is, we should pray that through all of God’s tests in which He does in fact lead us into, don’t let us be ensnared by Satan’s destructive temptation.
Instead, deliver us from evil, creating in us a resilient faith and a perseverance to overcome every test and trial that comes our way.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Lastly, if you’re curious about the line “for Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever”, you might be interested to discover that this line didn’t exist in the earliest copies of the book of Matthew, which is why I did not include it. However, I do think this ending to the Lord’s prayer sounds very nice and is a beautiful way to end this powerful prayer. 🙂
I hope breaking down the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer verse-by-verse was helpful for you! Understanding the Lord’s prayer meaning has definitely helped me in creating structure to my prayer life and I know it will help you, too.
More Bible Study Resources for Understanding God’s Word!
Just for fun, I’ve put together some of my favorite Bible study tools that have really helped me in understanding the Word of God:
Favorite Bibles and Commentaries:
Favorite Books and Devotionals:
Bible Journaling Supplies:
Did this post help you in understanding the Lord’s Prayer meaning? Let me know in the comments below!