The Lord's Prayer: A Commentary
About the Lord's Prayer
Matthew 5-7 is known as the Sermon on the Mount. The Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6, in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus taught His disciple how to pray.
The Lord’s Prayer is also known as the Model Prayer. However, we have come to know this as the Lord’s Prayer even though Jesus did not pray this prayer Himself.
According to the scriptures, the prayer that Jesus prayed is found in John 17 when He prayed for Himself, His disciples and those who would believe. Because most people refer to this as The Lord’s Prayer, I will do the same in this article to avoid confusion.
The Lord's Prayer Used Often
The Lord’s Prayer appears twice in the New Testament. The longer version is in Matthew 6:9-13 with a more developed version of an invocation and seven petitions. The first three petitions are in reference to God. The last four petitions are for divine help and guidance for ourselves. The Lord's Prayer concludes with a doxology
The shorter version in Luke 11:2-4 is a brief text of only five petitions without a doxology.
It Should Take One Hour To Pray the Lord's Prayer
The book Could You Not Tarry One Hour by Larry Lea and The Hour that Changes the World by Dick Eastman have detailed explanations of the Lord's Prayer. Both authors agree it should take one hour to pray and meditate on the Lord’s Prayer when we pray it in private.
Surely, it takes us only a minute or less to recite it in corporate worship. When we sit down to pray the Lord’s Prayer in private, it should take exactly one hour to do so if we meditate on each line before moving on. If it takes you only one minute to pray the Lord’s Prayer, then you are cheating God out of 59 minutes.
The Lord’s Prayer begins with a direct address: "Our Father." Jesus invites us to say "Our Father" when we pray to indicate our relationship with God along with the community that we are praying with.
Every prayer should be addressed to God in the name of Jesus, who mediates.
Which Art in Heaven
After the direct address, an identifying statement should be given about God whom you have addressed. The identifying statement about God is where He dwells . . . "Which art in heaven."
Here are some other direct addresses with identifying statements:
- "All Wise and Eternal God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
- "Heavenly Father, the God of David, Moses, Solomon, Ethan, Asaph and the other psalmists."
- "Our Father, the maker of heaven and earth."
- "God, our Father who sits high and looks low."
Hallowed Be Thy Name
We go into the seven petitions after we have addressed God directed and identified who He is.
"Hallowed be thy name." “Hallowed” means “honored.” Holy is the name that should be hallowed or honored, We should begin our prayer with worship, ascribing praise and honor to Him who is worthy of it. When we say, “Hallowed be thy name” we are rearranging the words and we are really saying, “Thy name, be hallowed.”
That is the first of three petitions that have to do with God. After God is given His supreme place and then and only then should we go into the four petitions for ourselves.
Thy Kingdom Come
After worship, we should make the second petition. It is for the advancement of God’s kingdom to come on earth.
We can rearrange the words into the way we speak. When we say, “Thy kingdom come” we are really petitioning “Come, thy kingdom.” It is calling forth God’s perfect plan for us here on earth.
Thy Will Be Done
After we say, "Thy kingdom come" we should acknowledge that God knows best by saying, “Thy will be done.” Let’s rearrange those words and say, “Be done, thy will.” When we do that, we are surrendering our will to God’s will. It also expresses a longing to see His will in us and throughout the world.
This is the end of the three petitions concerning God:
- "Hallowed be thy name."
- "Thy kingdom come."
- "Thy will be one."
On Earth As It Is In Heaven
The next line is “on earth as it is in heaven.” This explains all three preceding petitions. The worship of God, the sovereign rule of God, and the performance of His will are all reality of heaven that we pray for on earth.
Now that we have made our petitions concerning God, we are ready to move into the four petitions concerning ourselves and our own personal needs. Even though we are praying for ourselves, we are also praying for others as well. Notice “us” and “our” in the next three petitions.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
"Give us this day our daily bread." We pray for daily bread for ourselves and for others. No one is excluded. "Our bread" is the "one" loaf for the "many."
This acknowledges our dependence on God for our daily food, both spiritual and physical. That’s why we should pray this prayer every day. We should pray for daily bread instead of for bread in the future.
And Forgive Us Our Debts
"And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Some versions of the Bible say, "forgive us our trespasses as we those who trespass against us." Know that "debts" and "trespasses" both mean "sins."
We pray for forgiveness because we need to forgive others so God can forgive us. Notice on the cross, the first thing Jesus asked for was forgiveness for those who were doing Him wrong.
And Lead Us Not Into Temptation
"And lead us not into temptation." God does allow His people to be tested and tried. We should distrust our own ability to resist temptation. Therefore, we pray and depend completely on God not to allow us to go into temptation.
The word "temptation" means "a test," and refers to any experience that tries our health or our will. An illness, a death, a financial crisis, any hardship is a "test," or a temptation.
But Deliver Us From Evil
"But deliver us from evil" is the last of the four personal petitions. When we ask to be delivered from evil, we pray as well to be freed from all evils, present, past, and future. We pray that God will deliver us from hurt, harm, and danger.
In so doing we also pray that God will grant us peace as we await the blessed hope and the coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
That ends the four petitions pertaining to our needs and the needs of others.
- "Thy kingdom come."
- "Thy will be done."
- "Forgive us our debts."
- "Lead us not into temptations."
We now come to the last part of the Lord’s Prayer. This final part is a doxology. A doxology is simply a short prayer of praise to God. A doxology has five distinct characteristics.
1. It is about God.
2. It contains praise.
3. It has creation language
4. It has eternal language
5. It ends with Amen
For Thine Is The Kingdom
"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen." This doxology acknowledges the ending of the prayer attributing all power and glory to God forever through all eternity.
"Amen" in this prayer and in any other prayer means "And it so" indicating being in agreement with what has been just been said.
Things To Remember About The Lord's Prayer
- Notice the use of the plural pronouns "our," and "us."
- Prayers to God should have a direct address, "Our Father."
- There is an identifying statement about our Father: "Who art in heaven."
- Three petitions about God: Hallowed be the name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done.
The turning point in the prayer with four petitions for ourselves:
- "Give us our daily bread."
- "Forgive our debts."
- "Lead us not into temptation."
- "Deliver us from evil."
The doxology ends the Lord's Prayer.
Let Us Pray
Will you pray the Lord's Prayer along with me now? As you do so, think about what you are saying. Let’s pray that prayer that Jesus taught His disciples.
Our Father which 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.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
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
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