Understanding the Lord’s Prayer

From the Book

New Beginning
I’ve Accepted Christ – Now What?
A Discipleship Guide for New Believers
(Chapter 11, pp. 118-128)

By Joseph Choi & W. Jae Lee

Jesus said, “When you pray, say Our Father…” What an incredible privilege it is to dialogue with our Great God! King David, when still a shepherd boy looking up at the stars, thought it was remarkable that the Almighty Creator God would even take the time to think of man. He wrote in Psalms 8:3-4, “3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

John 14:13 (NIV) 

And I will do whatever you ask in my name,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

Now, Jesus was inviting the disciples to have a father-son relationship with God instead of just a master-slave kind. This was more than they could comprehend. Because the Old Testament rarely referred to God as Father, the disciples found it difficult to address God in this way. However, Jesus brought to us a new way of connecting with God as a loving Father. He gave the disciples the relationship He had with the Father. For over three years, Jesus modeled for them the kind of personal relationship they should pursue with the Father.


The Lord’s Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV) 

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

Brief Summary: The Lord’s Prayer contains two sections. The first section deals with God’s glory (vv. 9-10) and the second with man’s need (vv. 11-13). Furthermore, each section is composed of three petitions (appeals or requests). The first three are petitions on behalf of God’s name, His Kingdom, and His will. The second three are petitions for daily bread, forgiveness, and protection from temptation. Jesus didn’t tell the disciples, “This is what you should pray.” Instead He told them “This, then, is how you should pray.” The disciples did not ask Jesus to teach them a prayer but to teach them “how” to pray. To paraphrase Jesus was saying, “Pray then, in this way,” or “Pray along these lines.”

Our Father in heaven: The Almighty God is “Our Father,” who is worthy of our adoration, praise, and honor. There is no earthly father like He. Therefore, as believers, we are to pray to our Father with a childlike respect, love, and confidence. “In Heaven,” are all the resources that are available to us when we trust God as our heavenly supplier, but we must seek the giver of gifts and not just the gifts. It would be inappropriate and dishonoring to approach our heavenly Father for all the things He could provide and not want to have anything to do with Him.

Hallowed be Your name: Another word for “hallowed” is “holy.” So, when saying, “hallowed be your name” in essence you are saying, “Let Your name be holy on earth as it is holy in heaven.” Even the angel’s cried out “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Therefore, when you pray “Hallowed be your name,” you are treating God with the adoration, respect, and honor that He deserves. We are saying to the Creator that He deserves the utmost worship, and we do this by honoring His name because His name is who He is.

Your kingdom come: God is the King over His dominion, and the King is inseparable from His kingdom. When we pray “Your kingdom come,” we are recognizing that God is the ruler of our lives, and we want to see Him, ruling over the entire world. And if He is the King, we are His subjects, privileged to serve Him in any way He commands. We ought to be constantly concerned with applying His “kingdom” principles in our daily lives. All that is good and right about heaven is what we want on earth. His rule, His presence, His joy, and His fellowship are all included in the plea.

Your will be done, on earth as it is heaven: This aspect of prayer is affirming your submission to God’s plan for your life. When you say “Your will be done,” you are praying first that God’s will become your will and not only that but that His will be the only will on “earth as it is in heaven.” What is the point of declaring supremacy of His will? Our will and His will are in conflict in an on-going battle. If we don’t remind ourselves that we are serving Him instead of the other way around, we will live like He exists for us. We can never forget that we exist for Him. We have joined His cause so we follow His plan. We must have no will of our own. We must do everything that pleases Him (John 8:29).[For further understanding of God’s Will for your life, go to Part 5: “Knowing God’s Will”]

Give us today our daily bread:The word “bread” is a symbol that stands for all our physical needs. It is breathtaking to understand that a Holy and Mighty God that created the universe and who is completely self-sufficient, would even consider caring and supplying our physical needs. How wonderful it is that we should know a God that truly provides. Just think how much you would care about your children’s needs. Now multiply that by a million. That doesn’t even come close to how much He cares about your needs. Do you think He will provide those needs?

Matthew 6:32-33 (NIV) 

32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors: The principle behind this process is that as a child of God, you are simply saying “I am sorry Lord for the wrong (sin) I have done. Please forgive me.” Repentance from the heart restores the fellowship we have with the Father. (A distinction needs to be made here between a relationship and fellowship. We make this distinction for this section only because sometimes the word relationship is used synonymously with the word fellowship, as in a good relationship or a bad relationship with another person.) Fellowship occurs in the context of a relationship. Once we become believers we have a relationship with God that never changes. We are His children forever. But our fellowship with our heavenly Father can have its ups and downs like our human relationships.

When I (Jae) offend my wife, I may end up on the couch because our fellowship is broken, but our relationship or marriage doesn’t change unless we get a divorce. A more permanent illustration is with my son. If we have broken our fellowship in one way or another, we can restore that fellowship by apologizing and forgiving, but our relationship will never change in a zillion years. We will be father-son forever.

All of our sins have been wiped clean, past, present, and future, because of the cross. We suffer no eternal consequences because of our sins. We only suffer fellowship-wise if we don’t repent. Therefore, we seek forgiveness in order to be renewed in our fellowship with the Father. Sin that is not confessed is not forgiven (1 John 1:9). We may get away with it when relating to people, but not with God. And, since sin separates us from God, forgiveness restores the fellowship in the case of the believer and in the case of the unbeliever forgiveness begins his relationship with the Father. Get used to repenting because you never want anything to hinder your fellowship with the Father.

The condition attached to asking for forgiveness attests to the seriousness of God’s concern for our fellowship with other people. If we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us which means our unwillingness to forgive others keeps our fellowship with the Father from being restored. Then, we can never have fellowship with God without restoring our fellowship with others. It cannot get any clearer than that.

Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) 

14For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

This stands to reason. If Jesus came to earth for the purpose of providing forgiveness for mankind, then it is the most important agenda God has. What would it say about us if we say we want Your forgiveness God, but other people can’t have ours? We’re not saying “Your will be done.” But that’s what we consented to in the beginning of our prayer. When it comes to forgiveness, be as generous as your heavenly Father is, and He will bless you with sweet fellowship with Him.

And lead us not into temptation: First and foremost, we must understand that God does not lead anyone into a situation to be induced to commit sin, nor would a Holy God tempt anyone. “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me. ’For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13). After rebirth the heart desire of the believer is to avoid sin and the consequences that follow. It happens naturally as the result of the Spirit’s indwelling presence, which means that temptation is now greater and the fight more intense. We feel threatened by sin. Our awareness of what displeases God increases so we have to be more diligent about being pure. This is why we pray, “Steer us away from temptation.” We don’t want to be in its proximity. We don’t even want a whiff. We never want to sin against God by falling into temptation. We only want to honor and glorify Him.

But deliver us from the evil one: When you accepted Jesus Christ as Lord over your life and you surrendered your heart to the Father, Satan lost another one. I don’t know about you, but I hate losing. Imagine a greedy, selfish, egotistical, hedonist, of the worst kind losing a prized possession to somebody else. Do you think he’s going to sit around and accept defeat maturely? Consequently, expect a tenacious fight to get you back or at least expect Satan to try to destroy the fellowship you have with the Father. Before you came under the headship of Christ, your conscience and heart had a shallow understanding of wrongdoing; however, after accepting Christ your mind and heart were touched by the Spirit of God’s holiness. Satan is going to fight against that desire for holiness tooth and nail so you’re going to need God’s help to withstand him. Nobody on earth and in heaven has the capacity to defeat Satan except the Lord. Only He can deliver us. But in order for God to “deliver us from the evil one,” we must be under His protection and submit to His Word. “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We are confessing our need for protection and deliverance to our protective Father and we don’t fear the evil one because we have one greater than He who holds us in His hand (Deut. 31:12, 1John 4:4). We are sober about Satan’s power, but we don’t fear him. God holds our destiny in His hands and not the evil one. He will subdue Satan and deliver us from him.

1 Peter 5:9 (NIV) 

9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Sample of How You Can Put the Lord’s Prayer together:

“Our Father in heaven” you are the Almighty God, who deserves all honor, all praise, and all glory. You created heaven and earth and you created me because you loved me. So, “Hallowed be your name” by which I was saved from sin and came into your presence. May your name be lifted up by the way I conduct myself. Father may, “Your kingdom come.” Rest in my heart and rule over it as your dominion.

Lord, may I be obedient to what you will show me. Today, I am meeting with _________ so grant me encouraging words; I need to make a decision on _________ so grant me wisdom to know what to do; I need help in __________ so enable me to work diligently; and give me peace about _________.

Lord, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and I fully submit to your plans instead of mine. May I do the best that I can but leave the outcome to you and not demand my own way. Daddy, “Give us today our daily bread,” for we are financially lacking to pay for our _________.

Lord, thank you for caring for my needs. Father, please “forgive us (me) our (my) debts (sins).” I have sinned today, please forgive me for __________. Please help me live free from sin! I can’t do this by myself! I desperately need your help. And, Lord, please help me to “forgive our (my) debtors” who hurt me. Help me to forgive them, and let my anger and bitterness toward _________ be removed.

Dear God, “lead me away from temptation” in ________ and help me to overcome _________. Moreover, “deliver us (me) from the evil one,” for I fear you and no other, not even the devil, for he is under your dominion. May you rule supremely over my life, for you are my Savior and the Master of my heart. May your Words be my shield and sword, and may your holy name give me strength for today. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

Remember, this is just a sample. Don’t make this a ritual you read every day. Change it up. Break the routine. Speak honestly from your heart and enjoy His presence.

Make sure to check out other posts regarding the series on Prayer!
Importance of Prayer
Growing in Prayer


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(book cover)New Beginning I've Accepted Christ-Now What