Sunday, June 23, 2013

What We Mean When We Pray The Lord's Prayer

What do we really say and mean when we recite the Lord's Prayer? What are our intentions? Are we just going through the motions? The Lord's Prayer, in my opinion, is one of the most holy prayers that we pray; we say it in church at every service, and we often pray it on our own. But what do those words really mean?

Let's break it down:

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name-
Oh Holy God in Heaven above
Thy Kingdom come-
We desire the Kingdom of Heaven to be here
Thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven-
The will of God be done on Earth as in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread-
Supply us with our daily needs
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us-
Forgive us for hurting others, as we forgive those who have hurt us
Lead us not into temptation-
Keep us on a path to you
Deliver us from evil-
Hold us close to you; may our lives be favorable in your eyes
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever-
Because you are the Almighty and Powerful God, all glory to You

As I was breaking down the words of the Lord's Prayer, a couple of things stumped me and caused me to really think critically about how I understand God and this prayer. First, "thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven" is a unique phrase in this prayer. After hearing pastor, author, and activist Brian McLaren speak at Annual Conference this year, I feel it is important to note that when we say the Lord's Prayer, we are not asking for entrance into Heaven, or into the Kingdom of God, but rather we are asking for God to equip us and work through us to bring the Kingdom of Heaven (or Kingdom of God) to Earth.

The second conundrum is "lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil". I struggled to differentiate between those two phrases, because although they seem different, they are actually very similar. "Lead us not into temptation" focuses on keeping oneself on the straight and narrow path to God, while "deliver us from evil" focuses more on being held close to God and asking Him to protect us from "evil" which can also be understood as "temptation". Though some scholars and theologians argue that "deliver us from evil" is referring to deliverance from the devil or protection from Satan, I think it can really just be a way of asking God to hold you close to Him so that you are able to avert your life from temptation and evil, no matter how such things manifest themselves.

In closing, I believe The Lord's Prayer is not only one of the most holy prayers, but also one of the most beautiful prayers when spoken aloud in unison. Let us not forget the true meanings of our words when we pray this prayer (or any prayer for that matter), but rather be intentional and deliberate in our askings of God.

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