Lent Midweek 3 – The Lord’s Prayer

The following brief guide to the Lord’s Prayer is adapted from my book The Christian Faith: An Introduction.


The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer was taught by Jesus Christ in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.  Most often, the longer version from Matthew’s Gospel is used in Christian worship and private devotions.

The prayer is as follows:

Our Father who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us,

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

Oftentimes, a doxology (i.e. a hymn of praise) is spoken at the end of the prayer as follows:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer is divided into seven petitions, with an opening introduction and the closing doxology.  Each division of the prayer is described further below

Introduction

Our Father who art in heaven,

This begins the prayer by addressing it to our Heavenly Father.  The use of the word “our” also indicates the communal nature of the Christian faith.  The Church continually prays to the Father in heaven.

First Petition

Hallowed be thy name.

In this petition we pray that we may keep God’s name in holiness and reverence.  We pray that we do not misuse it, but rather treat God as the Holy Lord who He is.

Second Petition

Thy kingdom come.

In this petition we pray that God’s reign may come to us and throughout the world; this is the “kingdom of heaven.” The word “kingdom” in this sense means more properly “reign,” as in the rulership of a King.  Thus, we pray that God continue to rule over all things.

Third Petition

Thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

In this petition we pray that God’s will be done both on earth and in heaven.  We therefore place our trust in Him to govern and order all things, even when we do not understand His will.

Fourth Petition

Give us this day our daily bread,

In this petition we pray that God would provide for us.  This includes both our spiritual and bodily needs.  Since God created us as embodied creatures, we pray that He would care for the bodies which He created.

Fifth Petition

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us,

In this petition we pray that God may enable us to forgive those who wrong us, just as He has forgiven us who have wronged Him.  We therefore pray that we can freely forgive, just as God has freely forgiven us.

Sixth Petition

and lead us not into temptation,

In this petition we pray that God would not allow us to fall into temptation.  We do not believe that God tempts us, but rather that we are tempted by the pleasures of this world to turn away from Him.  As fallen creatures we are always tempted to worship the creation rather than the Creator.  Therefore, we pray that we be not led into these temptations.

Seventh Petition

but deliver us from evil.

In this petition we pray that God would deliver us from evil and from the power of the devil.  We look to God for all good things.

Doxology

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.  Amen.

This is the closing doxology to God.  We acknowledge that God rules over all things and is rightly owed all praise and adoration.  He is also eternal, and His reign extends through eternity.  The word “Amen” basically means “so be it.”  We close our prayers with “Amen,” because we trust that God will do all things according to His gracious will.

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Use of the Lord’s Prayer as a Guide for Prayer

In addition to praying the Lord’s Prayer itself, it also serves as a guide for our own spontaneous prayers.  The petitions teach us that we ought to pray that God’s will be done, that He would continue to provide for us and watch over us, that He enable us to forgive others, and that all things would be done in accordance with His holy will.

 

 

(Image: The Lord’s Prayer (Le Pater Noster), by James Tissot – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2006, 00.159.167_PS1.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10904489 )