The Lord's Prayer
This lesson looks at the Lord's Prayer. What does this prayer mean? Why do we say it?
Here is the Lordís Prayer:
Prayer is when we talk to God. We can talk to God by speaking with our voices, or we can speak to God in our minds. Prayer is the way we can communicate with God. Every Christian needs to pray to God for help - every Christian needs to pray to God for others.
When Jesus was on the earth 2000 years ago, his followers saw that Jesus spent many hours praying to God. They saw that he was closer to God than anyone they had seen. They saw that Jesus had an inner calm that came from his time in prayer to God.
These disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. What Jesus did for them was give them a model prayer. He gave them a pattern to follow when they prayed. And this is what the Lord's Prayer is. It is a prayer, but it is also a pattern when we need to pray about anything. We use the Lord's Prayer as a pattern.
Jesus told his followers that there was no point in giving long prayers. God already knows what we need; He already knows what we are going to say before we even speak. So when we pray, we must let our words be few. Yet God will listen to us when we beg and plead with Him. In the times of Jesus, some people used to pray out loud on the street corners so that others would think how wonderful they were. Jesus says that this prayer does nothing - we are to pray to God in secret - in private - and He will always hear us.
Let us look at the Lord's Prayer and see what it teaches us about prayer, and about the God whom we worship.
Most Christians recite the Lordís Prayer in an old English form. It was the English used in the time of William Shakespeare, the English playwright. The Lord's Prayer has been re-written in modern English, but most Christians prefer the "traditional" form.
Our Father who is in heaven
Whenever we speak to someone greater than ourselves, we need to speak to them by name. But Jesus refers to his Father as "our" Father. In other words, the Almighty God who made all things is happy to let us call Him "our Father". What a wonderful privilege to speak to Almighty God as Father. But that is what He wants us to call Him. This also means that we are the children of God. It means that we must behave correctly, or else we will bring sadness to our Father. Thanks to Jesus, all of us have a real Father who cares for us more than our own fathers ever have or do.
We also state that God is in heaven. He is far above us - we recognise Him as the all-powerful being who made all things, and who lives where we cannot see Him.
Hallowed be your name
"Hallowed" is an old English word meaning "honoured" or "revered". We know that God created us - we honour Him as our maker. We praise and honour His Name. Now God has used various Names, but the meaning of the Name is that God has a plan with men and women, and He will live with them in His Kingdom.
Your Kingdom come
We are asking God to set up the Kingdom on earth that He has promised He will. Jesus Christ will be the King of the world. We are asking God to set up this Kingdom as soon as possible.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven
We know that God rules in heaven. Everything in heaven is under His control, and all of His angels there know, serve and honour God. On the earth, things are not that way. God is in control, but many, many people have no idea who God is, or if they do, they are not interested in His way. When we pray "your will be done on earth", we are asking God to take complete control of the earth like He has complete control of heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
In his prayer, Jesus can see that what we need and what we want are different things. Each day, we need food and drink, we need a place to live. "Give us our daily bread" means asking God for what we need to keep us alive. We do not ask God for beautiful clothes, fast cars, huge houses, big bank accounts. These can be things we want, but they are not what we need. Now God may give us more than what we need. What we have to do is to share the good things that God has given with those who do not have much. By saying, "give us this day our daily bread", we are asking God to keep us happy and alive as we serve Him. And this He will do if we trust Him.
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us
We often disobey God. We do not always keep His laws. Our sins keep us separated from God. All we can do is ask God to forgive us because of the work of Jesus. The death of Jesus means that our sins can be forgotten by God if we ask Him to. But there is something else that is important - God will only forgive us if we will forgive those who do bad things to us. The Christian must have a forgiving nature. He or she must always be willing to forgive the bad things done by others to them. Before God can forgive us, we must forgive others.
And lead us not into temptation
When we sin and do the wrong thing, it is often because we are somewhere we should not be. Are we in a place where good people live, and where God is respected? If we spend our time with the wrong people, then we cannot blame God when we sin. This part of the prayer asks God to keep us far away from places where we should not be, where we may do things that God would not be pleased about.
But deliver us from evil.
The world can be a dangerous place. There are wicked people everywhere. We ask God to carry us away from the evil in the world and to keep us safe. It does not mean that the Christian never feels pain - but he is protected because of his relationship to Jesus Christ.
For yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory. Forever.
The prayer closes with the confidence we have that the Kingdom of God will soon come on the earth. God will take over the corrupt governments of the world and there will be peace and harmony for all peoples of the earth. This is when Jesus Christ becomes King of the World, reigning from the city of Jerusalem. This Kingdom will never end. It will last for all time.
"Amen" is a Latin word that means "so be it", or "let it be so". We usually say this word at the end of any prayer; the word shows that we leave the answer to the prayer to God. Maybe He will answer our requests - maybe He will not. But as God is greater than ourselves, we have to leave all the future in His hands.
You have learnt something about prayer, and about the Lord's Prayer. When you say this prayer later on, you can understand a little more of what it means. When you are alone, you can read this prayer and know that God is listening to you.
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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 April 2013