Helping to Understand the Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer. If you are like me you pray this prayer daily. The problem is that we know the prayer so well that we can recite it without giving it much thought. That's not how it is meant to be prayed. I believe that when Jesus taught us this way of praying it was to help us to grow closer to Him, not just to randomly say the words. Through a lot of research, I have come closer to discovering the meaning of the words in the prayer and hopefully I can help others to have a more meaningful prayer life.
And when you pray....
First of all, Jesus tells us to find a quite place where we are alone to pray. Remember, God can hear your prayers no matter where you are, so if you are in nature or maybe just your bedroom or office He will hear you.
The prayer begins by stating, "Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name." Let's look at what is being said. Our Father, a father is someone who cares for us and who is also responsible for creating us. When we pray this way we are acknowledging that He is the one who created us from heaven above. A father will love us no matter what we do. Sure, he may be disappointed in us sometimes but he never stops loving and caring for us.
Hallowed be thy name, the definition of hallowed is honored or holy. So in the first statement of the prayer we are acknowledging that God is our true Father who lives in heaven and that we consider his name as being holy.
"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven." Here we are asking that God fulfill His promise of coming again. God rules heaven and earth and we are asking that the earth is governed by the same rule as is heaven.
"Give us this day our daily bread." God knows the things we need to survive in this world. Food, water, shelter, clothing, companionship are all things that help us survive each day. We are asking Him to continue to provide us with these things now and in the future. We sometimes forget that He provides these things when our lives are going well, but when things start to go bad and we lean on Him He never leaves us.
"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." This says a mouthful. We are not just asking God to forgive us, but to forgive us just as we forgive other people. I have often heard people say, "I forgive but I can't forget." If you can't forget something then you have not forgiven the person who caused you to feel this way. In this world people will continue to do you wrong. Do we really want God to show the same forgiveness as we show others? That's what we are asking for in this part of the prayer.
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." First of all, God does not ever lead us to temptation, Satan does. God wants what is best for us and he will never lead us down the wrong path. He will always keep us on the straight and narrow. Everything that happens to us causes us to make choices. If we ask, God will give us the right path to take and if we follow His advice He will deliver us from evil. It's when we go against His instructions that we get in trouble.
When you next pray the Lord's Prayer, don't just recite it, pray it. It is very easy to just say the words but think deep. The Lord is always listening and wants to be able to spend time with you in prayer. When you pray, think about each word and it's meaning.