18 May 2017

The Meaning of the Lord's Prayer

From The Lord's Prayer
by James Tissot
The Lord's Prayer was taught to us by our Lord Jesus almost 2,000 years ago. During the divine service, we pray it between the anaphora and the distribution of Communion; in our personal and familial devotions, we ideally pray it twice per day. Although the Lord's Prayer is ancient and unchangeable, I find that it never gets old and I love it as it is. As a child of God the Father, you most likely are fond of it and you take comfort in praying it. As Lutherans, we learn the meanings of its seven petitions by consulting one of Martin Luther's two catechisms.

In this post we will learn the meanings of the petitions of the Lord's Prayer with the help of Luther's Large Catechism. You can find the aforementioned writing in the Book of Concord.

The first petition is, "hallowed be thy name." The very name of God is in itself always hallowed, i.e., holy, and in this petition we pray that it will be hallowed among us also. Therefore, in this petition, we are asking God to make both our life and doctrine Christian and godly. (LC III 37, 39)

The second petition is, "thy kingdom come." What is the kingdom of God? It is Jesus Christ ruling us as a king of salvation, life, and righteousness. In this petition, we are asking God to keep us faithful subjects of His kingdom, to help us grow in it every day, and to bring more people into it all over the world. (LC III 51, 52)

The third petition is, "thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." Although the Almighty's name is always hallowed and His kingdom comes even before we ask, we still pray that His will, i.e., those things, be done. In this petition, we are asking God to help us carry out His will contrary to those who are against it, namely, the devil, the world, and our own flesh. (LC III 67, 68)

The fourth petition is, "Give us this day our daily bread." Bread in the term daily bread does not solely denote a loaf of rye that we might need. It is all good things we require for our well-being, and they come from God. In this petition, we are asking Him for those things so that we might know they come from Him and recognize in them His paternal goodness toward us. (LC III 73, 82, 83)

The fifth petition is, "and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us." We grow in our Christian life yet we are not without sin. God forgives us our sins daily and abundantly; in this petition, we are asking Him to do that just as He promised. Although He freely forgives us, we ourselves should forgive others in order to have the assurance that He indeed forgives us. (LC III 86, 88, 92, 95, 96)

The sixth petition is, "and lead us not into temptation." We will be tempted by the devil, the world, and the flesh until the day we meet our risen Lord, our beautiful Saviour. In this petition, we are asking God to give us strength to resist all temptation so that we do not become shaky and fall into sin, shame, and unbelief. (LC III 101, 102, 105, 106)

The seventh petition is, "but deliver us from evil." What is evil? As a noun, evil is the devil and all things under his kingdom such as death, poverty, tragic misery, and the obstruction of God's will. In this petition, we are asking God to free us from all that is called evil. (LC III 113, 114, 115)

We end the Lord's Prayer with the Hebrew word Amen. We use that word to affirm our faith that God will truly grant us our requests because He has promised to do so. (LC III 120)

For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. (Luke 11:10, NRSV)

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