Delving Into The Lord’s Prayer

For many years, we’ve endeavored to bring The Lord’s Prayer to the web in as many languages as possible, as well as in song. On this page, we offer a helpful line-by-line analysis of the prayer itself.

Jesus Teaches: How to Pray

We read in The Gospel of Matthew (6:9-13) that when the people asked, “Lord, teach us to pray,”  Jesus taught them The Lord’s Prayer.   Many find the prayer very familiar, and comforting. Although there are more variations of The Lord’s Prayer than there are languages on Earth, the underlying concepts contained in the prayer are always the same.  By analyzing the prayer line by line, we can take it even more deeply to heart.

Line-By-Line

Our Father 

Here, Jesus indicates solidarity with us: we share a parent in God. This is a shared prayer, that encourages community, as children of God.  Moreover, Jesus suggests a close relationship. In Aramaic, the parent is referred to in very familiar language, as Daddy, rather than the formal language many of us are used to  hearing. This familiar, friendly, loving term of endearment would have sounded very new and different then, as it does to us, when we say “dear daddy in heaven.” Yet Jesus is offering us this very relationship with our Father.    

who art in heaven, 

Although God is close, God is much more than a daddy.  The Lord’s Prayer is beginning with an affirmation of a statement of a transcendent, yet immanent God.  

Hallowed be Thy name.

This is language of adoration, expressing the knowledge of God’s holiness, even God’s name, which was revered and not spoken or even written.   Some analysts see this as the first of seven petitions: a wish for people to celebrate God’s holy name. 

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done On Earth as it is in Heaven.

We have free will, and this isn’t always aligned with God’s will, and this so often leads to suffering. This line expresses a wish for the creation on earth to reflect the divine will and beauty of God. These are the second and third petitions in the prayer.

Give us this day our daily bread

This line speaks to the sustaining nature of God, asking that God provide for our needs. The request is limited to the present moment: this day. It is the fourth of seven petitions.

And forgive us … as we forgive…

This is the fifth of seven petitions. Here, Jesus appears to be saying that the measure of forgiveness that we put forth is the measure of forgiveness we shall receive. There are many variations of this particular line (translated sometimes as debts, trespasses, sins and the like),  and all of them are attempts to get at the meaning of the original Greek word opheilemata.  The Gospel of Matthew continues after the prayer, along this line of thought:  “For if you forgive […], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you.”

And lead us not [or: and suffer us not to be led] into temptation,

This line, the sixth petition, asks God to keep us from being led into the sort of trial that tests our virtue.

…but deliver us [from evil / from The Evil One]

This last petition takes it one step further, asking God to deliver us, when needed, out of harm’s way.

Doxology: For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever, or some variant of this thought

The doxology (this line of the prayer) is not found in the early editions of The Gospel of Matthew. Yet it, or some variation, is often added to the prayer when practiced. For example, it may be added by a priest during a service (e.g., Catholic services), or an individual, reciting the prayer. With this added line, the prayer ends by affirming the dominion, strength, and glory of God. Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke has noted that prayer rises to God on wings of praise, and that every psalm (except one psalm that makes no petition) includes praise. So does The Lord’s Prayer.

When the doxology is considered along with the opening statement Hallowed be Thy name,  the Lord’s Prayer can be seen as a perfect praise sandwich: petitions wrapped in praise, rising up to God. Such praise statements are not spoken for God’s benefit, but rather for our own, filling our minds with thoughts of God’s nature. 

Amen

This common ending to a prayer simply means ‘so be it.’

To learn more about NHM Ministrants’ project to bring The Lord’s Prayer to the web in as many languages as possible, click here.

Categories Bible Quotes & Commentary, Lord's Prayer | Tags: | Posted on April 22, 2013

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