A short line-by-line analysis. Click on the title links for more in-depth commentary.
• Our Father which art in Heaven
Jesus teaches His disciples that God is our parent in Heaven. The Apostle Paul restates this by exhorting the believer to address God as "Abba" (Aramaic for "Daddy"- the kind of intimate word that a child would use to his or her father) " And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."" (Rom 8:15, NIV)
• Hallowed be thy name
The first of seven requests in this prayer. "Hallowed" means holy. As we pray this line we are reminding ourselves that God is separate from us, completely pure and faultless. Here we become aware of our own frailty as we adore and worship the living God.
• Thy kingdom come
God's kingdom is to do with His ways and order. So here we are asking that God's ways happen here, as they are fully obeyed in Heaven.
• Thy will be done
The third request in this prayer is that God's will occurs. Here we are aligning our will with God's will, we are submitting ourselves to Him, and asking that His way triumphs.
• Give us this day our daily bread
We need God in all areas of our life (physical, spiritual and mental), and this is a daily need. We need to come back to God regularly, each day- indeed, many times each day and many ways, for we can quickly become independent and self-seeking. Jesus reiterates this daily dependency when he exhorts us to not "worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself" (Math 6:34, NIV)
• And forgive us our trespasses
Different versions of this prayer use different words here - sometimes "trespasses", "debts" or "sins" (click here for a explanation of this). Here we bring to mind the ways in which we have failed God and others, and ask the Lord for His forgiveness.
• As we forgive them that trespass against us
As we receive God's forgiveness, we bring to mind anyone who we feel may have wronged us, and pardon them.
• And lead us not into temptation
The sixth request in the Lord's prayer is not to be in a place where temptation might overwhelm us. It is not wrong to be tempted or tested (Jesus was!). It is wrong to give in to this temptation.
• But deliver us from evil
The final request is for protection by our Father in heaven. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, he declared 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'(Math 4:4 NIV). In times of trial, Jesus recognises the Lord as His source of deliverance. Likewise we are to depend on God when evil is at our door.
• For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. Forever and ever. Amen.
The prayer finishes with a closing doxology, that is, a hymn of praise to God. Not all versions of the Lord's prayer include this as many biblical scholars believe that this was added at a later date.
The context for the prayer is the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus discussing how we should pray. We are not to pray to impress God or others, or to think that we might be able to manipulate Him in order to get what we want.(Matthew 6:5-7, The Message) Rather, we are to come simply, as a child would to his father, and honestly, being real about our failures and need of God.
Some christians see the prayer as a model for how we should pray, rather than a definitive set of words that we should recite. This view is especially common in modern day evangelical and charismatic churches, where there is an emphasis on praying spontaneously from the heart. However, in other church traditions, such as the anglican and orthodox church, daily ritual in prayer is seen to be important in keeping close to God. There is also seen to be benefit from praying the same words together, as this helps unity of heart in worship.