Articles by Topic
Articles by Type

The Lord’s Prayer

Christian, tell me why is the Lord’s Prayer important?
Because…It teaches us attitudes that should be central to our relationship with God.

It seems that humans tend to enjoy routines. While it varies based on personality, many people are uncomfortable if things are too vague. They prefer to know what to expect, and to have standards that let them know they are on the right track.

The Model Prayer

Jesus’ disciples may have been exhibiting this attitude when they asked Jesus “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1) The Jews already had many specific prayers that were done at given times and places. But apparently John the Baptist had taught something additional to his disciples. Jesus’ followers knew how often Jesus would go aside to pray. They also knew that He was the Messiah. They would have naturally assumed that the Messiah could teach them how to pray perfectly, in the manner that would be most effective and pleasing to God. This is how Jesus answered:

And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
‘Give us this day our daily bread.
‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’]

Matthew 6:7-13, See also Luke 11:1-4

Jesus responded with a Model Prayer that incorporates all of the mindsets that are important in our relationship with God. While we don’t necessarily have to stick to the routine of the exact words, each of these attitudes is something that should be a part of our lives. Let’s take a look at them.

Model Attitudes

  • Our Father
    • This is acknowledging God as “Father“, not as “tyrant”, or “one among many options” or “irrelevant”. It is claiming a relationship of mutual love, and the trust of a child for the One who protects and provides for them.
    • It is also acknowledging that the Father is shared, and is not mine alone. Who is the “our” in this sentence: Only Jesus’ immediate listeners? Only the Jews? Most likely, it refers to all of Jesus’ disciples, both present and future. I am not to behave as if God is my exclusive property. It’s the other way around!
  • Who Art In Heaven
    • This intimate Father is also the Almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of all that exists. He is not to be treated lightly, as simply “the man upstairs”.
  • Hallowed Be Thy Name
    • We don’t often hear the word “hallowed” in conversation these days. It means a special kind of “holy” or “set apart” 1. The best use of it that I can imagine is Abraham Lincoln’s speech when dedicating a Civil War cemetery at Gettysburg:
      • But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
    • God’s name — His entire being — is to be set aside and honored above everything else. I am hurt and sad when the acronym “OMG”, “Oh My God”, is thrown around so casually. It is not hallowing God’s name to use it as a common expletive! I think observant Jews have it more correct: They won’t even write out the word “God”; they use “G-d” instead to show respect for even the written name of the Almighty.
  • Thy Kingdom Come
    • The coming of God’s fully-realized kingdom to replace the current anarchy of everyone “doing what is right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6) is the goal toward which we are to be working.
  • Thy Will Be Done On Earth
    • In one sense, God’s will is always done. Nothing happens that He doesn’t allow and have plans to use for good.
    • But in another sense, God’s will on earth is currently being resisted. Sinful humans are always rebelling, pushing against (and breaking) God’s boundaries, and making life more difficult than He means for it to be.
  • As It Is in Heaven
    • In Heaven, the angels who remain after Satan and his followers were kicked out don’t resist God’s will. They obey Him willingly, knowing that His authority is absolute, and is completely deserved.
  • Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
    • This is asking for only “enough”, not for extravagance. And it is asking only for “this day”, not for the five-year-plan or for the rest of my life. That requires trust that God will continue to provide, and also requires me to stay close enough to be able to receive each day’s provision.
    • The classic example of this is the manna that God provided in the wilderness during the Exodus. Exodus 16 describes how the manna appeared each morning, in just the quantity that each family needed for the day. If they tried to hoard it and keep some until the next day, it would spoil. They had to live in day-to-day dependence on God. He never failed to come through for them.
  • And Forgive Our Sins
    • Depending on the translation, this may read as “sins” or “debts” or “transgressions”. This makes it interesting when a group is asked to recite the Lord’s Prayer together: Everyone hesitates over how to say this line. 😁
    • In any case, it is asking to be forgiven for my rebellion, for living without acknowledging and obeying God as He deserves.
  • As We Forgive Those Who Sin Against Us
    • It is also accepting the balance: That to receive forgiveness requires extending forgiveness to others. Matthew 18:23-35 relates Jesus’ parable illustrating this. A man whose large debt was forgiven was then unwilling to forgive even a small debt against himself. The master who had forgiven his debt was very unhappy with that attitude!
  • Lead Us Not Into Temptation
    • This is not asking that God refrain from tempting us to sin, because He never does that anyway (James 1:13).
    • Neither is it asking that God protect us from ever being tempted or having our faith tested (James 1:2-4).
    • Rather, it is asking that God preserve us and protect us from being overcome by temptation, failing the test instead of growing from it.
  • But Deliver Us From Evil
    • This is stating the same thing in reverse, using a common literary technique of parallelism. It is asking again that God deliver us from being overpowered by Satan. Some translations say deliver from “the evil one” rather than just from “evil”.
  • For Thine Is The Kingdom, And The Power, And The Glory, Forever.
    • This line is not in the oldest manuscripts, so was probably not included in what Jesus originally said. It parallels instead David’s prayer in 1 Chronicles 29:10-11. But it does provide a fitting summary that mirrors the opening line, honoring God and deferring to Him as being above everything else. The requests for myself — for daily bread, for forgiveness, for protection from evil — are subordinate to the overall prayer that God be praised.

Bottom Line

How would my life be different if I truly prayed like this? If my top priority was to honor God and submit to His will; if I humbly requested daily provision, forgiveness, and protection; if I focussed on His kingdom, power, and glory…Would I continue to act as I do?

Would you?

Footnotes and Scripture References

  1. Dictionary definition here.

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture reference links go to, which defaults to another good translation, the New International Version (NIV).  The site has 20 or more translations available for reference.