I ask that question because I remember when I was at junior school and certainly during the first couple of years at secondary school we said The Lord’s Prayer every day during assembly. Although I am sure like many I only learned to say The Lord’s Prayer parrot fashioned rather than really taking to heart the words, well I was young and more interested in playing marbles at the time.
But the other morning I found myself not just saying The Lord’s Prayer but also contemplating the words. Truthfully it had been too many years since I had last said it and forgot the exact words of one line. But that contemplating of the words led to me digging in to them deeper as I found myself thinking about them over and over again, kind of like having the most beautiful prayer ear worm. So this post is simply how The Lord’s Prayer has ended up speaking to me and what I learned as I delved deeper.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
How do you tend to start your prayers? For me I usually say Dear Lord but The Lord’s Prayer immediately starts by encouraging us to create a relationship with God, seeing him as our Father. And seeing God as my father makes me think of him as my creator, protector, carer, teacher, provider, and so much more including someone who for my own good will reprimand me. In amusing way I am thinking about all those movies I have watched where each child in a class stands up and says what their dad does for a living, can you imagine just turning around and saying my Father is awesome and perfect in every way as he created everything. I know, my mind goes off on random tangents.
Then I found myself wondering why use “hallowed” rather than the more familiar holy especially when one of the definitions for hallowed is “regard as holy”. I don’t know why but for me it works because it emphasises the sacred, most special nature of God especially as with holy being used in so many hymns its familiarity can cause it to lose some of that reverence, you can say it with not always thinking about it.
But then if you combine the “hallowed” with “Our Father, who art in heaven” it elevates it even more as God our father whose name is special, is above all others, there is no one who is above him, there is no one with more power, more love, more patience.
I tell you what, people make a big deal about last words but that first line of The Lord’s Prayer is simply awesome as we not just praise God but are reminded quite simply of how awesome he is.
thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven.
This is one of those lines which I always took simply in context of the rapture and second coming when it mentions “thy kingdom come”. Follow this with “thy will be done” and it seems to reinforce that this is going to happen because we know that God is in control and so we know that there will be a new heaven and new earth.
But did you know that kingdom is also defined as God’s reign, so I can see how this line becomes more of an individual request. It can be us daily surrendering and requesting for God to rule over our lives, let His plans for us happen and allow us to live a righteous life on Earth as they do in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
The thing I have found more and more as I have thought about The Lord’s Prayer is how each line can reveal itself in different ways. So on face value “Give us this day our daily bread” comes across like a prayer, plea, or petition if you prefer, for God to provide what we need to make it through the day.
But then break that line down further and the first thing which grabs me is the use of the word “Give” which is a reminder that God is our provider and what we are given is not earned but a gift of love.
Then we have “this day” and this causes me to think of Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” and as such we should focus on “this day” rather than be worrying about the next.
And then there is “our daily bread” which with it reminding me of the Israelites being reliant on God to provide them with Manna each day re-enforced the whole aspect of we need God to provide us with what we need. As such as a whole this line is not only a plea to God to provide us with what we need but then it becomes a reminder to us that we should rely on God.
But then how about when you consider that in John 6:35 Jesus refers to himself as the” Bread of Life”. When I think about this it makes this line have an added meaning with it also being a request to be filled with the Holy Spirit and a reminder to spend time in the Word.
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
This line has always seemed to be the most obvious to me, we ask God for forgiveness for our sins and it is a reminder that if God is this gracious to us we should also be as gracious to others and forgive those who sin against us. In fact in Matthew 6 following on from where Jesus teaches this prayer the emphasis of his next words is on forgiving others.
But as I said, I contemplated this prayer a lot and as such I found myself considering the word “trespasses”, a word which I have seen changed to debtors in some versions and simply sins in other versions. But the specific use of the word trespasses makes me think of a particular sin, encroaching on someone else’s territory. And so it makes me think of these words as asking for forgiveness every time I take matters in to my own hands and forget, or choose, not to rely on God.
And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
Again this line has always seemed to be so simple: please Lord don’t allow my to succumb to temptation, making bad choices and keep me away from all that is evil.
But I find myself thinking about that word “temptation” and to be honest various things come to mind such as: are all temptations bad? And in James 1:13 “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;”.
The trouble arises from how words over the decades and centuries have taken up certain meanings whilst also with the Bible having been translated many times the choice of words may not always fit with the original meaning. As such when you say temptation these days you tend to think of some thing which is bad but then I could say that I am tempted to go to the prayer evening at church tonight, which of course isn’t bad.
Do you know that there is a lot, and I do mean a lot, written about this line and trust me I am not going to go in to it all. As such, how this line speaks to me personally is a request not to be led into any trials, but if I am to protect me from making the wrong choices and the evil which surrounds me. But as such this is another line which reminds me that I need to be reliant on God because I know my life will not be trial free, evil surrounds me and so I need to rely on his strength, wisdom and love to guide me through them, making my faith stronger when I come out the other side having been protected from evil by relying on him.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen
This line does not appear in Matthew 6 and if you start to wonder why you start getting in to the history of the Bible and the various texts which the New Testament as we know it our based upon as in the Alexandrian and Byzantine. Now I am no scholar and so if you want to understand the history of the Bible please go ahead, it is fascinating. What I will say is that this line appears in 1 Chronicles 29:11 and so there is nothing wrong with saying it. As such this line to me is acknowledgement that everything belongs to God, everything is done through his power and the result is glory to God always.
Now one of the things I don’t remember ever being taught when I was younger when it comes to The Lord’s Prayer is that it is a template for our own prayers.
1 – We start by praising God, entering prayer with thanksgiving and gratitude for him being Lord of all and all that he has done for us.
2 – Then we surrender and ask for his will to be done, not just through us but across the whole planet with people coming to God through Jesus.
3 – We acknowledge that we are reliant on God and need him to provide for us.
4 – Ask for forgiveness and acknowledge we need to forgive others.
5 – And help us not to succumb to evil, that we will endure trials with God’s help.
I have seen steps 3, 4 and 5 referred to as Provision, Pardon and Protection which is a good way to remember them.
So after spending a lot of time contemplating those words I not only find myself saying The Lord’s Prayer once again every day but now each line and each word has so much more meaning for me. Not only that but now I have a guide for how I should be saying my prayers. As such I will say one other thing as I am so grateful for all those years of saying The Lord’s Prayer when I was at school because it stuck with me. But for those who want their children to learn it as well don’t just teach them the words help them explore what each line is saying and how it is a guide, a template for praying.