Do your children begin the day with a rousing rendition of the Lord’s Prayer? Big theological questions about apportioning God’s mercy and eternal punishment for sin aside, it seems to be a mainstay in Sunday school curricula as children around the globe learn how to pray. Maybe you were in their shoes at one point and prayerfully detailed the petitions at bedtime night after night like your parents asked. Maybe you were old enough to resent being forced to say the prayer. Maybe you forgot everything except “lead us not into temptation” and “thy will be done.”
In this post, I’m going to give you a brief outline of the Lord’s Prayer, for your study purposes. It is unlikely that most people know it by memory, but many know some parts of it. This can be an interesting exercise in practical theology. I have tried to use a simple style which uses very direct and clear language, I hope you find it helpful.
Our Father Which Art in Heaven, Hallowed Be Thy Name.
The first part of the prayer is about God, and what He has done for us. The second part is about God’s name, and how we should treat it. The third part is about God’s kingdom, and how to live in it with Him. The fourth part is about God’s will, and how to follow that will. The fifth part is about God’s glory—His reputation among men—and how we can help spread it around everywhere!
Thy Kingdom Come. Thy Will Be Done in Earth, as It Is in Heaven.
This part of the prayer asks for God’s kingdom to come. This means that we are asking God to have control over all of humanity and its affairs, just as he has control over heaven. God’s will is also being asked for in this part of the prayer because it is what brings us peace with him, forgiveness, and justice on earth (if you want more info about this topic, check out our article about forgiveness).
This part is often abbreviated or left out altogether in translations because it can be hard for us to understand how exactly we can ask for something so abstract like “God’s will” or “God’s kingdom.” But keep reading below!
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread.
The next line of the prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread,” is a metaphor for all the good things we need. It’s a simple statement, but it can be hard to fully appreciate how much God gives us every day. We take everything for granted. When you wake up and drink your coffee, think about how many people went into making that cup of coffee possible—not just the farmer who grew the beans and then sold them to a company that then shipped them to your local grocery store; but also everyone involved in getting those beans from country of origin all the way through processing into finished product! And don’t forget those who work at Starbucks!
Think of all these people (and more) who are contributing their lives’ work so that you have something simple like coffee in your hand each morning; and now consider how often we thank God even once throughout our day! We truly need His daily provision if we want to live life with Him and not without Him (John 6:35).
And Forgive Us Our Debts, as We Forgive Our Debtors.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
This section of the prayer is about forgiveness. The prayer is asking for forgiveness, so that we can be forgiven. We are asking for forgiveness, so that we can be forgiven.
And Lead Us Not Into Temptation, but Deliver Us from Evil: For Thine Is the Kingdom, and The Power, and The Glory, for Ever. Amen.
The last portion of the Lord’s Prayer is a request for protection from temptation and evil; it asks that we may be delivered from evil. The prayer also asks for God’s kingdom, power and glory.
As you pray these words, remember that they are not just words but promises from God Himself!
This Prayer Can Be Broken Down Into Five Parts
The Lord’s Prayer is a prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. It can be broken down into five parts:
- An opening acclamation or blessing
- A request for God’s name to be hallowed (praised)
- A request for the kingdom of heaven to come into our lives and hearts, and also onto the earth in its fullness
- A plea that we are united with Christ and with others who likewise belong to God; these are called the “debts” of our lives. These are sins against God and others that need forgiveness. We ask forgiveness for these sins as well as all unkindness, evil words or actions toward ourselves or another person. We acknowledge that we have been forgiven when we accept Jesus’ gift of salvation by faith alone in him through baptism into his body (the Church).
- And finally, we end with an offering of praise back up unto God because he has shown us mercy by revealing himself through Christ Jesus.”
It is important to remember that this is a very old prayer, written in what we now consider an archaic form of English. It has been translated many times and used by many cultures throughout history. The version we have today was written by Thomas Cranmer, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1533 until 1556. It may be that this prayer has changed more than other parts of the Bible because it was written so long ago.