Prayer is one of the big themes of Lent, and Jesus taught us his own prayer – to be ours. Here are some thoughts about it, bit by bit…
Our Father who art in heaven – We are talking to God who is “dear father” or “ dad” who loves us, not some neutral distant deity
Hallowed be thy name – Jesus starts with praise and worship, not by asking for something, as we so often do. This puts us in right relationship with God,
Thy kingdom come – This is one of Jesus favourite words. But what does it mean? Heaven? The afterlife? Some paradise?
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven The Kingdom is wherever God’s will is being carried out – perfectly through Jesus and in heaven. We are to bring about the Kingdom on earth by following God’s will day by day.
Give us this day our daily bread – As we pray for the coming of the Kingdom, we ask the Lord to supply our daily needs, symbolized by bread. This would also include of course the Eucharist.
And forgive us our trespasses – Now we ask for the healing of our relationship with God through forgiveness, one of Our Lord’s most important themes
As we forgive those who trespass against us – We ask the Lord to help us to forgive others as we are forgiven. Perhaps his forgiveness can only get through to us in proportion to how we forgive others…
And lead us not into temptation – Generally agreed to not be a perfect translation of the original, because God can’t lead us into temptation! “Do not put us to the test” might be better. We are weak human beings, easily tempted and quick to fall, we need help.
But deliver us from evil – Modern scholars tell us that this is personification of evil, perhaps better translated as “The evil one”.
So we can see a beautiful movement in this great prayer. We start from God, then pray His Kingdom down to earth. As it comes, we ask God to support us day by day. We then remember our relationships, with God and with our neighbour, as the Kingdom prompts us. Finally we move out into the future, asking for the Lord’s ongoing protection and strength.
There we have it – the prayer of the Lord, the Lord’s Prayer.