Have you ever wondered where exactly is “Kingdom Come”? Or, of all the things we could ask of God, why do Christians ask for bread? In this article, I dissect this prayer that many of us have recited more times than we can count, but perhaps are not always clear on what exactly it is we are saying. I examine it from a historic and spiritual perspective rather than a purely religious one.
This article is a bit of a departure from my normal style of religious-neutrality. But, since most people have heard this prayer, I hope that it will be enlightening to Christians and non-Christians alike. At the very least, it will satisfy your curiosity. More than that, I hope that you will learn something from it. I believe that every spiritual path can benefit from the teachings of any religion as long as fanaticism doesn’t enter into it.
The Lord’s Prayer Interpretation
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread [or strength], and forgive us our trespasses [or debts or sins] as we forgive those who trespass against us [or forgive our debtors]. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory. Forever [and ever]. Amen.
One of the first things to consider when attempting to decipher any biblical teachings is that they were written a long, long time ago (about 2000 years ago for this particular passage) in a language very different than our own on scrolls that do not preserve as well as modern day books. Furthermore, the words were usually not put to paper (scrolls) until long after the events occurred and had been passed on verbally. Then, these ancient texts were translated to English about 400 years ago when the English language was significantly different than it is now, and the cultural understanding of Christian teachings was also different than it is today (and different than it was at the time of the original writing). All these factors contribute to the great difficulty in understanding these ancient biblical teachings.
God is the father of our soul. Our earthly parent’s were responsible for the birth of our bodies. God, our creator, birthed our soul.
Who art in Heaven,
The father we are addressing is our heavenly father who is of heaven, not of Earth. Earth is ruled by man, not by God. God created the Earth and gave man the freedom to live on Earth according to our own will. We can choose to follow the ways of God, or to follow our own ways. The suffering that exists in the world comes from Man, not from God.
hallowed be Thy name.
(Thy is equivalent of “your” in modern English.)
God’s name is to be honored as holy. When we make this statement, we are vowing to respect God’s name as set-apart from the world and worldly things. We are vowing to refrain from using God’s name casually or with vulgarity.
Literally, the name of God is “Yahweh”; however, in modern English and with the ubiquitousness of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islamism), the word God is generally assumed to be referring to Yahweh. During Biblical times, people worshiped many God’s, and use of the name Yahweh set God apart from the other God’s.
Notice that the pronoun, “Thy”, is capitalized. This is standard practice in Christian writings for any pronoun referring to God or Jesus: i.e. He, Him, His, Thy, etc.
Thy Kingdom come. Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.
The Kingdom of God exists on Earth when God’s will is done (His Kingdom comes to Earth). By making this statement, we acknowledge a belief that God’s Will will someday rule the Earth, and that Earth will be as Heaven. We are also vowing to carry out God’s will in our own lives on this Earth, thus bringing about Heaven on Earth in our own lives and the people and things we touch. We can also look at this statement as a petition to God. We are asking God to bring His will to Earth so that we may experience and share Heaven on Earth.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Jesus said that what we ask for will be received as long as we follow God’s will. In fact, everything we have received in our lives, whether we judge it as good or bad, we had asked for and received through our thoughts and behaviors (sounds a little bit like the Power of Intention). With this statement, we are asking God to see to it that our daily needs are met today. We are focusing not on getting everything we desire, but rather that we have everything we need to live this day and do what we have been called to do today. We focus on this day only and let go of the struggles of the past and trust that God has tomorrow managed.
And, forgive us our trespasses
The word trespasses has also been translated as “debts” and “sins.” In either case, when we trespass against someone, fail to pay what is due, or commit any kind of sin, whether against another person, our bodies or our selves, we separate ourselves from God. Any wrongdoing we commit against ourselves or others is always against God, because we are creations of God. God’s forgiveness is there for the asking. When we sincerely ask for God’s forgiveness, we receive it immediately and are no longer separated from God.
as we forgive those who trespass against us
Our main goal in seeking spiritual growth is to be like God. God withholds forgiveness from none who ask for it, and in making this statement, we vow to do the same. Anger and resentment cloud our judgment and attack our bodies, leading to exhaustion, illness and disease. And worst of all, they block our spiritual growth and keep us apart from God. Anger is a natural and appropriate response in many circumstances, but holding on to anger and withholding forgiveness are harmful to ourselves and everyone we contact.
Lead us not into temptation
Here, we ask for God’s guidance to lead us to places where we are not tempted to harm ourselves or others or work against the will of God. Since it wouldn’t make sense to ask someone to lead us if we have no intention to follow, we are therefore vowing to listen to God’s voice and act on that voice. For instance, someone struggles with Alcoholism and wants to stop drinking, it makes sense that God’s will for that person would not be to spend time in bars faced with constant temptation.
but deliver us from evil
Again, we are seeking God’s guidance and vowing to follow that guidance. To be delivered from evil is to be lead to where evil can not affect us: where there is good. So, we are asking God to lead us to a good place where God’s will, and therefore Heaven, are present.
for Thine is the Kingdom
(Thine is equivalent of “Yours” in modern English)
This is a declaration of our belief that the Kingdom of God is the ultimate authority over all. Though the Earth is ruled by man, it is God’s Will that will ultimately be fulfilled and through this prayer, we are declaring that we wish to be a part of that Kingdom and to follow God’s will to bring that Kingdom to Earth.
and the power
All power comes from God. Our power comes from God. God has given us His power to do with as we see fit. We can choose to use God’s power for God’s Will or against it. By making this statement, we are acknowledging the source of our power and recognizing that all the power we need to carry out what we are called to do can be received from God.
and the glory
Since all power comes from God, all work is the work of God. In this statement, we vow to set our ego aside, practice humility and allow God to take credit for the good works God leads us to do.
God is, was and always will be as He is now. The name Yahweh literally means, “I am.” The world changes, we change, so we are constantly faced with uncertainty. As we make this statement of God’s constant, unchanging and eternal existence, we can enjoy peace and solace knowing that God always is who God is, and the Kingdom, power and glory of God always were and will always be.
Literally means, “so be it.” This is the signature of the prayer. With this statement, we are declaring our acceptance of this agreement.
The Lord’s prayer is a covenant or agreement that we are making with our God. We are asking to be blessed with God’s heavenly will and to have our needs met. We ask for forgiveness, guidance and the power to carry out our calling. In exchange, we promise to play a part in bringing God’s heaven to Earth, to forgive as God forgives, to seek out and follow God’s guidance, and use God’s unlimited power for God’s glory, that we too may live in God’s Kingdom forever.