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Aug
05

The Lord’s Prayer – What Does It Mean?

The Lord's Prayer may be committed to memory quickly, but it is slowly learnt by heart.
-Frederick Denison Maurice

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.

Our Father,

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.

forever

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.

Amen

Literally means, “so be it.” This is the signature of the prayer. With this statement, we are declaring our acceptance of this agreement.

Conclusion

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.

About the author

Danny

I am Danny Kohn, writer and designer for this site and owner, software engineer and consultant for Inspirations Software Design. My three greatest passions in life are sharing time with my family, software design and sharing inspiration with others. I have the incredible privilege of being able to spend a significant amount of time every day doing each of those three things. I am a single father of Tristen, our 6 year old son. It has been such an incredible joy to watch him grow up and learn so much. Everything he does and says overwhelms me with adoration. We have a wonderful evening ritual of reading books together in a beanbag chair. Nearly every night, we have a laughing attack together. I smile and giggle constantly in his presence and feel truly inspired.

Permanent link to this article: http://beinspiredeveryday.com/2011/08/05/the-lords-prayer-what-does-it-mean/

23 comments

  1. immanuel zaanavi says:

    i am absolutely inspired by this wonderful Gods prayer, i will continue to pray everyday.
    in Jesus name

    thank you

    1. hazel says:

      i found that very helpful i will pray continually and on and on thank you
      hazel

  2. Bonnie Mae Tucker says:

    awesome interpretation, mahalo!

  3. Tess says:

    thank you, well done.

  4. Lesley Treen says:

    That prayer I had learnt to say when I was a lot younger. After reading your passage, it is now and always going to be very inspirational every time I say it.
    Thank you and God Bless x

  5. Rose Lieb says:

    I have researched for a simple explanation of the Lord’s prayer and you have done an excellent job. Thank you RL

  6. Claire says:

    I always knew that this is a powerful prayer, the break down of this prayer really open my eyes to how deep this prayer really is. thank you God for your blessings and bless the person that put this together.

  7. craig says:

    Very cool..I always wundered what thine is the kingdom ment..this explained the entire thing so very well.thanx and godbless…

  8. Shenie Moore says:

    Wow……I found this to be very enlightening. I plan to use this with my family to explain the prayer. My mother taught me the prayer as a little girl but had she explained it’s meaning It would have been even more powerful for me. Thank you so much……Amen Amen.

  9. Alastair Drew says:

    Fascinating insight to this ‘all inspiring’ prayer. In my view, there can be no definitive ‘answer’ to its meaning. It is, perhaps, what one perceives the meaning to be to us, individually. However, the stimulation of debate is inspiring. I confess to losing my way in life, emotionally and spiritually, but I never lost my faith.. circumstances such as illness and suffering made me ask questions for which there are no answers. Now, I am not reborne (John ch 3 v 3).. I just wandered into a wilderness of self doubt, a pathway of many intolerable questions but found the answers I looked for. I am no preacher, but am a humble man, trying to do the best for those around me. The Lord, I believe, was never here to save us, holistically, but to provide guidance and give us the strength with our faith to face our adversities and challenges and love for each other with fortitude, dedication and the belief that can overcome all. I pray, in my own way, I respect, in my own way, but I never expect. It is expected of me to guide others down their right path. It is a goal that can never be achieved. But, without faith, do we have anything.

    1. Liz Garchie says:

      Dear Alistair , read through the different responses and your response caught my attention. I do so hope that you (like all of us who have “tasted and seen that the Lord is good”) are continuing to seek Him and walk with him-daily. Since “all have sinned and fall short of his glory -Rom 3:23 It’s such a comfort to know that he loved us enough to send his son ” at just the right time, while we were still sinners”. -Rom. 5:8 One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 59:16-21. So thankful that He is THE Standard ( “is, was and is to come”) -Rev. However, we do have his Holy Spirit that lives in us…Eph 1:13-14, I Cor 6:19 and therefore have His Power -working within us to work out what Scripture reveals to us in our Spiritual walk -“All Scripture is God-breathed…”II Tim 3:16. One of the best sources for reference that has helped me, even though I’m not a new believer, is the New Believer’s Bible-NLT. It has excellent Cornerstones for our Faith, good devotionals, etc. : but most importantly, ” faith, hope and love…but the greatest of these is LOVE”… you seem to have this as elucidated by your caring attitude, heart and concern for others. Hope this blesses you and or anyone else reading through it…Liz g

  10. Iman says:

    Clear explanation . Thank you.

  11. Robert says:

    @Danny,
    I’ve seen many interpretations and this is one of the best. However, in the Catholic prayer, it ends with “but deliver us from evil”. The part that begins with “for Thine is The Kingdom”, is not technically part of the prayer, but nevertheless a conclusion to the prayer added in other Christian denominations. Thank you for your research.

  12. Minnie kate Reaves says:

    Well done

  13. JB says:

    well said!!!!

    Thank you and may God bless you.

  14. Richard says:

    thank u Danny. stay blessed and may the lord inspire u more and more.Amen

  15. dinah says:

    I am really inspired by the breakdown of our lords prayer…

  16. roshan says:

    hi thank you it was amazing and creative blessings

  17. Lou H says:

    Thanks for turning on a light for me

  18. Julia says:

    Thank you! It was very creative and inspiring! It really helped me.

  19. Regina says:

    Thank you for break in down The Lord’s Prayer for us all. You have been chosen to do this long be for you thought of it and what a blessing you are to many of us who ar continuing to search for answers from The Bilble.
    Truely inspired by The Word of God.
    Thank you for giving to The Lord….I am so glad you gave. Amen.

  20. Elon N Clark says:

    Great interrupation!!! Really needed this

  21. Rita says:

    Thank you for the explanation of this prayer. It was one of the easiest ones to understand. You broke it down beautifully.
    I Would like to know your thoughts on the use of using God instead of YAWEH (YHVH, I am) and Jesus instead of YESHUA (Salvation). I have been searching for understanding on this. I have learned that the letter “J” was not in the Hebrew or Greek language until the translation of The King James Version only 400 years ago; and the true name is YAHWEH and Not God as there were many Gods prayed to in the Old & New Testament (as there is now) but there was Only One True Creator which is YAHWEH and YESHUA, our Savior who died & shed HIS Blood for our sins that we may be saved.
    Is praying to God in Jesus name the biggest lie created by Satan to make our prayers ineffective?
    I am finding enough evidence to start using the name YAHWEH & YESHUA instead of God & Jesus. Can you please shed some thoughts on this.
    Thank you again for your teaching.
    May YAHWEH bless you as you continue to search HIS Truths.

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