Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon,
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation
but rescue us from the evil one.
Just about everyone knows the Lord’s Prayer, it’s one of the most famous passages of scripture. But despite its popularity, we often miss the true beauty and depth found in the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer. Perhaps we know it a little too well. Since we are so familiar with it we often just gloss over it.
I think the Lord’s Prayer deserves a fresh look because it still holds some incredible truth for us today. In this post, we are going to break down this prayer verse by verse so that we can see it with fresh eyes.
Table of Contents
The Meaning Of The Lord’s Prayer Verse By Verse
The Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6:9-10 and is in the middle of Jesus’ longest recorded message, the Sermon On The Mount. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus contrasts how most people in his day pray with how they should pray. And what he says is revolutionary.
In this prayer, Jesus’ focus isn’t really on the specific words we ought to say. Rather he teaches us the themes we should incorporate into our prayers. Jesus is teaching His followers how to pray. Not the words to say, but instead a structure to follow.
In John 17 we see Jesus’ longest recorded prayer. What’s interesting about this prayer is that Jesus prays about the same themes as He does the Lord’s Prayer, and even keeps to a similar pattern.
The Lord’s Prayer teaches what to pray about. The significance of these words is what they remind us of, the themes they point us to. That’s why so many churches say this every Sunday because we need this reminder.
So, let’s look at the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer verse by verse so that we can better understand this powerful truth.
Our Father In Heaven Meaning – We Are Family
Our Father in Heaven…
The opening of Jesus’ prayer seems normal to us today. But 2,000 years ago those who heard this would have been floored. Father is a personal term and that reveals how accessible God is to us. For the Jews in the audience, this was a shocking revelation. God was not some distant being, but rather a father who has a vested interest in his children.
Today we often take God’s fatherhood for granted. God, the creator of the universe, is accessible to us. And not just accessible, but our Father.
The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that God is present and cares about us. He is our heavenly father and we are family.
May Your Name Be Kept Holy Meaning – We Come In Awe
may your name be kept holy…
God is our heavenly father and we can approach him anytime. However, this second part shows us the manner in which we should do so. God is holy, therefor we should approach him with a sense of reverence acknowledging that He is holy and we are in awe.
God’s name isn’t something we should throw out without care. The name of God is holy and needs to be kept that way.
Now I’m not saying we need to use fancy words or make ourselves into something we are not. We can come as we are, but we should come into His presence in awe. In other words, everyone is welcome but we still need to have manners.
May Your Kingdom Come Soon Meaning – We Don’t Belong Here
May your Kingdom come soon…
Often in life, we are tempted to think about the kingdoms of this earth. The Lord’s Prayer reminds us that as followers of Jesus, we belong to a different kingdom.
Our hope is not in the present world, rather our hope is in what we cannot yet see. When Jesus prayed thy kingdom come he’s reminding us that this world is temporary therefore we should place our hope in the coming kingdom.
The meaning of the Lord’s Prayer teaches us that the place we live in currently is temporary. We should take comfort in the knowledge that at the end of time, our struggles, trials, and difficulties will be no more. God’s Kingdom is coming and we should pray that it comes soon.
May Your Will Be Done On Earth Meaning – It’s Not About Us
May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven…
We often like to think that life is about us. At least I do… but this verse is a reminder that I am charged with building God’s kingdom, not my mine. For all who follow Jesus, our lives should be about fulfilling God’s will and not our own.
Jesus talked at length about this throughout the gospels. We are to die to our desires and submit to him. It’s not about accomplishing our own will, but God’s will.
The Lord’s Prayer shows that it’s so easy to abandon the will of God and start doing what I want to do. But with God’s grace for my mistakes and with the help of the Holy Spirit we can get back on the right path. We are building God’s kingdom, not our own.
Give Us Today The Food We Need Meaning – Our Present Needs Are Met
Give us today the food we need…
Jesus starts this prayer by focusing on our heavenly father, here he switches to presenting our requests to God. Our daily bread represents our physical needs, what we need to survive day to day.
The meaning of the Lord’s Prayer shows us that God is a father who wants to provide for his children. We often have this picture that God just wants us to obey at all costs. But Jesus is showing us that God cares about us and wants to provide for us. Through God, our needs are met.
And Forgive Us Our Sins Meaning – Our Eternal Needs Are Met
and forgive us our sins…
Our daily bread represents our physical needs, but God doesn’t stop providing there, he also meets our spiritual needs. It’s because the forgiveness of our sins is what we need so that we can live eternally with God.
Through Jesus we know can find restoration from our sins and we can spend eternity with God. God cares about what we are going through today and will care for us through eternity.
As We Forgive Others Meaning – Forgiveness Leads To Forgiveness
as we have forgiven those who sin against us…
What’s interesting here is that Jesus seems to assume that when you’ve been forgiven you will forgive. He’s not saying we should forgive others, but rather that we will forgive the sins of others. The mark of true forgiveness is when we extend it to those who have wronged us.
It’s easy to throw rocks at other sinners, but when we do that, they will ultimately ricochet back and hit us. It is when we recognize the magnitude of our own sin that we will put down our rocks and forgive those who have wronged us.
The Lord’s Prayer teaches us that those who recognize the amount they’ve been forgiven will forgive those around them.
Don’t Let Us Yield To Temptation Meaning – God Is Our Strength
And don’t let us yield to temptation but rescue us from the evil one…
This prayer ends with a nod to the magnitude of what’s happening behind the scenes. There’s a whole spiritual world out there that you and I aren’t privy to. This reveals that we need God’s protection not just from what we see, but also from the unseen.
That means we should stay in tune with the Holy Spirit to help guide us and direct us. We cannot do this on our own strength, we must rely on God. We do this through prayer and actively leaning on him.
Want a little more information about this passage? Check out Dr. Constable’s Bible Notes: Matthew 6 Commentary
How The Lord’s Prayer Applies To Your Life
The Lord’s Prayer is a pattern that Jesus taught his followers to pray in everyday life. The significance of this short prayer is in what the words point us to and remind us of. These themes are what should be incorporated into our own prayers.
That does mean we have to follow this structure every time we pray. Nor am I saying it’s bad to recite this prayer word for word. The point that I’m making is that when we look at our prayer life we should see a balance of all these things incorporated into what we pray about.
My challenge for you would be to examine your prayer life and see if you are praying for the same things that Jesus prayed for. The Lord’s Prayer is a reminder of who God is and how we should engage with Him. So, the next time you pray start by reading the Lord’s Prayer and then pattern your prayer of the themes that Jesus used.
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