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Lord's Prayer Explained

Posted by Loretto Chapel | 05.24.2018

 

This prayer takes a mere 15-20 seconds to say, yet is filled with deep meaning. This prayer perfectly summarizes our faith and what is expressed in the Gospels. On his reflection on this prayer, St. Cyprian of Carthage, a third century bishop wrote, “My dear friends, the Lord’s Prayer contains many great mysteries of our faith. In these few words there is great spiritual meaning, for this summary of divine teaching contains all of our prayers and petitions.”

 

Most catholics have recited this prayer hundreds or even thousands of times, however they have never thought about the true meaning of each line. It’s important to remind ourselves to stop and reflect on the words we are saying. We have taken a closer look at the lord's prayer line by line below to help people better understand its true purpose.

 

Our Father, Who art in heaven?

 

We start this prayer by professing our core religious belief that God is our heavenly Father—the one who is all knowing and all powerful. Notice that Jesus didn’t instruct us to say, “My Father” but stressed “Our Father.” Scripture scholar John Meier explains that in God’s kingdom, we don’t live as isolated individuals but “we experience God’s fatherhood as members of the church, the family of Jesus the Son.” This reminds us that we recognize all those around us as children of God and treat them accordingly.

 

Hallowed be Thy Name

 

Hallowed is another word for holy or sanctified. When we say “hallowed be Thy name,” we are not only telling God “I recognize that you are holy,” but more importantly, we’re asking that His name be recognized by everyone throughout the world as being the ultimate holy power—that one day (sooner rather than later) all will know Him to be righteous, powerful, and everyone’s one true God.

 

Thy Kingdom come

 

This petition has a two-fold meaning. First, we are asking that God’s kingdom (where there’s only goodness, honesty, and love for one another) surround us in our everyday life. Secondly, we are praying for the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that He will return at the end of time and grant us eternal life.

 

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

 

We pray these words asking for God’s grace to move us to do His will throughout our life. That means doing all the things that will please our Father—even the difficult things, whether it’s something big such as moving an elderly parent into our home or volunteering our time once a week at the soup kitchen, to something as small as giving up a parking space or not calling a best friend to spread some juicy gossip. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says, “In committing ourselves to [Christ], we can become one spirit with him, and thereby accomplish his will…”

 

Give us this day our daily bread

 

Here we’re recognizing that all things we need come to us from God. We’re asking that God continue to give us not only the food we need for nourishment, but also the Bread of Life, the Eucharist.

 

And forgive us our trespasses,? as we forgive those who trespass against us

 

This is a tough one. It may be easy for us to ask God to forgive us our “trespasses” or sins, but God in his infinite wisdom teaches us that in order for Him to forgive our wrongdoings, we must first forgive those who’ve hurt us. God isn’t being difficult, rather He’s teaching us that when there is bitterness and anger in our hearts, there’s no room for His love to fill our hearts. How can we ask God to be merciful and forgive our sins, if we’re holding a grudge or refuse to forgive someone who’s wronged us? Forgiving someone is often easier said than done. Only God can give us the strength to do it through prayer.

 

And lead us not into temptation,

 

Temptation and sin go hand in hand. When we come face to face with temptation, it can sometimes be difficult to resist. That’s why we need our Father to set up the road blocks and lead us far from the path of temptation.

 

But deliver us from evil.

 

Evil is an unfortunate reality in our world. The devil is always trying to tempt us and makes it his full-time job to look for ways to steer us from the right path and onto the wrong one. The devil has no power over God and when we pray to God for protection against all that is evil, He will shield us— always.

 

 

There are many moving prayers that we can say, but when it comes to one prayer that takes the main aspects of our faith and summarizes them in several short lines, the Our Father is the perfect prayer.