When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, He taught them what is known as the Lord’s Prayer 1. He said: “Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’” 2.

The word Jesus used in prayer when addressing His Father was the Aramaic word Abba, which was what a son or daughter in first-century Palestine would call their father. It is understandable that Jesus, as the unique Son of God, would call His Father Abba, but the remarkable thing is that Jesus taught those who believe in Him to address God as Abba as well.

Everyone who believes in and receives Jesus as their Savior can call God their Father. “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” 3Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, believers are adopted into God’s family as the sons and daughters of God, and therefore have the privilege of calling God their Father, Abba. “Because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, ‘Abba, Father’” 4. 

Praying “our Father” implies a sense of intimacy, that we are addressing one who loves us and cares for us. Prayer isn’t meant to be a complicated formal manner of addressing a distant entity. The prayer Jesus taught was short and unpretentious, a simple heartfelt communication by those who know that they depend on their Father for their daily needs, who need forgiveness of their sins and His protection and care.

By beginning the prayer with “our Father in heaven,” Jesus also reminds us that, while we address God intimately as His children, we should also be aware of His infinite greatness. He is God Almighty, the all-powerful Creator of everything that exists.

After the opening address, Our Father in heaven, six petitions follow. The first three pertain to God directly—His name, His kingdom, and His will. These are followed by another three which have to do with us—our physical needs, sins, and temptations.

As a pattern for prayer, we learn from the opening of the Lord’s Prayer to begin our prayers by entering into His presence with praise, reverence, and worship. Because of our relationship with God as our loving heavenly Father, we trust Him, depend on Him, and know that He has our best interests at heart. This is a foundational understanding of Christian prayer.

The first three phrases of the prayer which refer to God are “Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Here we have three petitions: may Your name be sanctified, may Your kingdom come, and may Your will be done. These express our prayer for God’s glory in relation to His name, rule, and will.

The word hallow means to honor and treat with the highest respect. When we pray hallowed be your name, we are asking the Lord to cause His name to be glorified everywhere. We are asking Him to act in the physical world, and particularly through us, His followers, so that all humanity may come to honor Him as God.

The second petition, your kingdom come, is a request for God to bring about His reign, power, and authority throughout the earth. The kingdom of God is both a present reality introduced through Jesus’ life and ministry as well as a future one that will be made complete after He returns.

When we pray your kingdom come, we are asking God to cause the gospel to be preached throughout the world so that people will have the opportunity to enter His kingdom. At the same time, we’re praying that Jesus will return and the kingdom of God will reign, as the words at the closing of the book of Revelation express: Even so, come, Lord Jesus! 5.

The third petition, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, builds on the second. When God reigns, His will is done. Here we pray for the full realization of all that the kingdom means—that His kingdom, power, and reign will become a reality on earth, and that His will for our lives will be given precedence over our own.

After the first three petitions, the prayer focuses on our human needs with the fourth petition. “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” 6This pattern—first prioritizing God, and second moving on to human needs—is also seen elsewhere in Jesus’ teachings: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” 7.

Give us this day our daily bread conveys the request for our Father to provide our physical needs—whatever is needed for the preservation of our lives. In first-century Mediterranean life, workers were paid daily and only had enough to live on day by day. Living in such insecure circumstances made the prayer very meaningful.

The fifth petition reads: Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew’s gospel uses the words debts and debtors to portray sin, while Luke’s gospel uses sins and indebtedness 8. Matthew’s debts and Luke’s sins both convey transgressions against God.

When Jesus told His disciples to pray forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors, He was speaking of our being forgiven of our sin. God has graciously and mercifully forgiven us for our sins through salvation. Therefore, we are to forgive others as an extension of God’s grace.

The last petition, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil is the petition of everyone who seeks to maintain a close and right relationship with God. We are requesting that our Father keep us from sinning, from situations in which we will fail the test, and from evil in every form—in our hearts, attitudes, and actions. We beseech our Father to keep us from anything that would come between us and disrupt our communion with Him.

The prayer in the Gospel of Matthew ends with: For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen 9. This last phrase is not included in many translations and is considered to have been added in the late second century. Though it may not have been part of Jesus’ original teaching, it is nevertheless a beautiful and fitting end to the prayer.

Heavenly Father, may You reign in our lives and throughout the world. Help all of us who believe in You to share the joyous news of salvation so that as many people as possible will come to know You. Teach us to live according to the principles in Your Word, so that we may reflect You and Your ways to others. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

If you have not yet come to know Jesus Christ as your savior, you can open your heart to Him by praying this simple prayer:

Dear Jesus, please forgive me for my sins. I believe that You died for me. I invite You into my life. Please fill me with Your love and Holy Spirit. Help me to love You and others and live by the truth in the Bible. Amen.

  1. Luke 11:1
  2. Matthew 6:9–13
  3. John 1:12
  4. Galatians 4:6 NLT
  5. Revelation 22:20 NKJV
  6. Matthew 6:11–13
  7. Matthew 6:33
  8. Luke 11:4
  9. Matthew 6:13