Perhaps the most famous prayer in the Bible is the Lord’s Prayer. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches us to pray. The King James Version is the most familiar, I believe.
After this manner therefore pray ye: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in 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.”
Many of us have recited this in church, weekly. I imagine many people even recite it daily. I have a friend whose pastor does not agree with the church praying this prayer often. He believes that when we say something over and over, it loses it’s impact. I can see his point. At times we might say the words, but our minds are somewhere else. But when we focus on the words, our hearts can pull out key elements to use within our prayers.
1 – Reverence
Verse 9 starts off with the following: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” Some of these words can be confusing, so I like to look at other versions of the Bible to see how they translate these words. The NLT version puts verse 9 this way: “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.“
When we pray, we should come humbly before God with reverence in our hearts. We should remember that He is holy and above everything our human minds can fathom. This helps us in a few ways. For one thing, it helps us to keep God in His rightful place. Also, it helps us to remember that we are placing our trust in the hands of the only One who is almighty. I believe this verse also reminds us to add praise into our prayers. When we praise God for who He is, this will in turn revive our hearts. This will help us to find joy because we are focused on our Savior and not our problems.
2 – Come into agreement with God
Verse 10 in the KJV says, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” NLT puts it like this, “May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.“
Many times in life and in our prayers, we think we know best. We believe we know how things should go in our lives, and even the lives of others. We are quick to offer an opinion, even when it’s not asked for. This verse reminds me that no matter what I may think, God ultimately knows what is best. And it would do us good to realign our thinking with His. God can see the big picture. He can see the beginning and the end. He can see how the jagged pieces of the puzzle will fit together and create a work of art. We have to learn to trust Him and then that will help us to come into agreement with Him.
3 – Pray for our needs and give thanks
Verse 11 seems pretty straightforward at first glance. The KJV says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” And NLT says, “Give us today the food we need.“
Often our prayers are filled with requests. I think this is something many of us have mastered when it comes to prayer. We are good about asking God for what we want. However, I think there is much we can still learn from this verse. First, we ask for things we want, but often they might be things that we don’t necessarily need. This verse reminds me to adjust my perspective. Also, this verse is a reminder that we often forget to give thanks when our daily needs are met. Therefore, this verse nudges me to extend gratitude to God because He has always provided my daily bread, He has always provided me with a roof over my head, and He has always provided me with clothes to wear. I think that adding thanks to our prayers will help us to keep the right frame of mind. We might think that everything in life is really hard, until we stop and see how much God has blessed us.
But honestly, when I think about this verse, I think beyond actual food. In John 6:35 it says, “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” So when I pray for my “daily bread,” I am reminded to seek the Lord daily, by reading my Bible, praying, and spending time in His presence.
4 – Forgiveness
Verse 12 in the KJV says, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” NLT says, “And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” When I was growing up, in church we used to say it like this, “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.“
This verse reminds us of a few things. For one thing, when we come to God in prayer, we should come with a repentant heart. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us. The Holy Spirit will often nudge us when we have messed up. And this is a trigger that we should confess our mistakes to God, and turn the other way. There are many things that our flesh will want to do that is not holy. This can be big or small. But when we come into agreement with God, the Holy Spirit helps us to discard the things that are no longer fitting in our lives as children of the Most High God.
This verse also reminds us that we have already been forgiven of so much. We should meet Jesus in thanksgiving, for all that He has done for us and the steep price He paid for us.
This verse also nudges us to forgive others. Because we have been forgiven of so much, we too should extend that forgiveness towards others.
5 – Walk with God
Verse 13 of the KJV says, “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 NLT puts verse 13 like this, “And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” As you can see, this translation (and many translations) have left off the last line.
I feel the beginning part of this verse is an extension of verse 12. We sought God’s forgiveness for our sins, and now we are asking for His help to keep from sinning again. When we make it our mission to walk with God each day, it will be easier to resist temptation. Also, we are reminded of the daily battle we face against the devil. He has spread evil all across the globe and is always looking for ways to attack God’s children. So it does us good to remember this as we face each day. We cannot let our guard down. When we make it our mission to walk with God each day, this also helps us to stand strong against the enemy’s forces.
In this verse I like the last line that is often left out of many versions. I think it brings us around full circle to where we started. We are remembering who God is and we are remembering He is all powerful. This is a reminder that God should be on the throne of our hearts. And it also is a reminder that we have an Almighty God on our side.
It is such an honor and a privilege to meet God in prayer. I think sometimes we forget this and just expect God to be a genie who grants all of our wishes. But breaking down the verses of the Lord’s prayers, we are reminded to come to God with reverence in our hearts. We are reminded to come into agreement with God. We are reminded to pray for our needs, but also to be thankful for our blessings. We are reminded to repent, to be grateful for His mercy, and to extend forgiveness to others. And we are reminded to walk with God, resisting temptation and resisting the devil. Rather than repeating this prayer mindlessly, I hope that digging into it verse by verse will help open our hearts in a new way.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas