I wanted to share one of the oldest but certainly the most famous prayer of Christianity. I'm sure you know it by heart but as such, we sometimes skim over the words and have them fall empty on our hearts. Whether you believe Jesus to be the Saviour or not, the words of this short verse should not go unheard nor unnoticed.
I believe heartily in these words and their composition and had the opportunity to attend a service today that the pastor broke the prayer down line by line. It had been 30 some years since I first read Emmet Fox's 'The Sermon on the Mount' which did the same in great detail. It forever changed my view of life and became my core philosophy from which I attempted to live my life. Not always achieving mind you...
I'm taking the liberty to copy a version of the interpretation here below. I hope you enjoy the lesson as reliving today's message helped me tremendously in readying myself for the weeks ahead.
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
[For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
"Our Father, which art in Heaven"
Together, the first two words — Our Father — are a title used elsewhere in the New Testament, as well as in Jewish literature, to refer to God.
The opening pronoun of Matthew's version of the prayer — our — is plural, which would be a strong indication that the prayer was intended for communal, rather than private, worship.
"Hallowed be thy Name"
Having opened, the prayer begins in the same manner as the Kaddish, hallowing the name of God, and then going on to express hope that God's will and kingdom will happen. In Judaism the name of God is of extreme importance, and honouring the name central to piety. Names were seen not simply as labels, but as true reflections of the nature and identity of what they referred to. So, the prayer that God's name be hallowed was seen as equivalent to hallowing God himself. "Hallowed be" is in the passive voice and so does not indicate who is to do the hallowing. One interpretation is that it is a call for all believers to honour God's name. Those who see the prayer as primarily eschatological understand the prayer to be an expression of desire for the end times, when God's name, in the view of those saying the prayer, will be universally honoured.
"Thy kingdom come"
The request for God's kingdom to come is usually interpreted as a reference to the belief, common at the time, that a Messiah figure would bring about a Kingdom of God. The coming of God's Kingdom is seen as a divine gift to be prayed for, not a human achievement. Some scholars have argued that this prayer is pre-Christian and was not designed for specifically Christian interpretation. Many evangelicals see it as quite the opposite — a command to spread Christianity.
"Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven"
The prayer follows with an expression of hope for God's will to be done. Some see the expression of hope as an addendum to assert a request for earth to be under direct and manifest divine command. Others see it as a call on people to submit to God and his teachings. In the Gospels, these requests have the added clarification in earth, as it is in heaven, an ambiguous phrase in Greek which can either be a simile (i.e., make earth like heaven), or a couple (i.e., both in heaven and earth), though simile is the most significant common interpretation.
"Give us this day our daily bread"
The more personal requests break from the similarity to the Kaddish. The first concerns daily bread. The meaning of the word normally translated as daily, ἐπιούσιος epiousios, is obscure. The word is almost a hapax legomenon, occurring only in Luke and Matthew's versions of the Lord's Prayer. (It was once mistakenly thought to be found also in an Egyptian accounting book.). Daily bread appears to be a reference to the way God provided manna to the Israelites each day while they were in the wilderness, as in Exodus 16:15–21. Since they could not keep any manna overnight, they had to depend on God to provide anew each morning. Etymologically epiousios seems to be related to the Greek words epi, meaning on,over,at,against and ousia, meaning substance. It is translated as supersubstantialem in the Vulgate (Matthew 6:11) and accordingly as supersubstantial in the Douay-Rheims Bible (Matthew 6:11). Early writers connected this to Eucharistic transubstantiation. Some modern Protestant scholars tend to reject this connection on the presumption that Eucharistic practise and the doctrine of transubstantiation both developed later than Matthew was written. Epiousios can also be understood as existence, i.e., bread that was fundamental to survival. In the era, bread was the most important food for survival. However, scholars of linguistics consider this rendering unlikely since it would violate standard rules of word formation. Koine Greek had several far more common terms for the same idea. Some interpret epiousios as meaning for tomorrow, as in the wording used by the Gospel of the Nazoraeans for the prayer. The common translation as "daily" is conveniently close in meaning to the other two possibilities as well. Those Christians who read the Lord's Prayer as eschatological view epiousios as referring to the second coming — reading for tomorrow (and bread) in a metaphorical sense. Most scholars disagree, particularly since Jesus is portrayed throughout Luke and Matthew as caring for everyday needs for his followers, particularly in the bread-related miracles that are recounted.
"And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us"
After the request for bread, Matthew and Luke diverge slightly. Matthew continues with a request for debts to be forgiven in the same manner as people forgive those who have debts against them. Luke, on the other hand, makes a similar request about sins being forgiven in the manner of debts being forgiven between people. The word "debts" (ὀφειλήματα) does not necessarily mean financial obligations as shown by the use of the verbal form of the same word (ὀφείλετε) in passages such as Romans 13:8. In Aramaic the word for debt is also used to mean sin. This difference between Luke's and Matthew's wording could be explained by the original form of the prayer having been in Aramaic. The generally accepted interpretation is thus that the request is for forgiveness of sin, not of supposed loans granted by God. But some groups read it as a condemnation of all forms of lending. Asking for forgiveness from God was a staple of Jewish prayers. It was also considered proper for individuals to be forgiving of others, so the sentiment expressed in the prayer would have been a common one of the time.
"And lead us not into temptation"
Interpretations of the penultimate petition of the prayer — not to be led by God into peirasmos — vary considerably. The range of meanings of the Greek word "πειρασμός" (peirasmos) is illustrated in The New Testament Greek Lexicon. In different contexts it can mean temptation, testing, trial, experiment. Traditionally it has been translated "temptation" and, in spite of the statement in James 1:12-15 that God tests/tempts nobody, some see the petition in the Lord's Prayer as implying that God leads people to sin. There are generally two arguments for interpreting the word as meaning here a "test of character". First, it may be an eschatological appeal against unfavourable Last Judgment, though nowhere in literature of the time, not even in the New Testament, is the term peirasmos connected to such an event. The other argument is that it acts as a plea against hard tests described elsewhere in scripture, such as those of Job. It can also be read as: "LORD, do not let us be led (by ourselves, by others, by Satan) into temptations". Since it follows shortly after a plea for daily bread (i.e. material sustenance), it can be seen as referring to not being caught up in the material pleasures given.
"But deliver us from evil"
Translations and scholars are divided over whether the evil mentioned in the final petition refers to evil in general or the devil in particular. The original Greek, as well as the Latin version, could be either of neuter (evil in general) or masculine (the evil one) gender. In earlier parts of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Matthew's version of the prayer appears, the term is used to refer to general evil. Later parts of Matthew refer to the devil when discussing similar issues. However, the devil is never referred to as the evil one in any Aramaic sources. While John Calvin accepted the vagueness of the term's meaning, he considered that there is little real difference between the two interpretations, and that therefore the question is of no real consequence.
"For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen "
The doxology of the prayer is not contained in Luke's version, nor is it present in the earliest manuscripts of Matthew. The first known use of the doxology, in a less lengthy form ("for yours is the power and the glory forever"), as a conclusion for the Lord's Prayer (in a version slightly different from that of Matthew) is in the Didache, 8:2. There are at least ten different versions of the doxology in early manuscripts of Matthew before it seems to have standardised. Jewish prayers at the time had doxological endings. The doxology may have been originally appended to the Lord's Prayer for use during congregational worship. If so, it could be based on 1 Chronicles 29:11. Most scholars do not consider it part of the original text of Matthew, and modern translations do not include it, mentioning it only in footnotes. Latin Rite Roman Catholics do not use it when reciting the Lord's Prayer, but it has been included as an independent item, not as part of the Lord's Prayer, in the 1970 revision of the Mass. It is attached to the Lord's Prayer in Eastern Christianity (including Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Churches) and Protestantism. A minority, generally fundamentalists, posit that the doxology was so important that early manuscripts of Matthew neglected it due to its obviousness, though several other quite obvious things are mentioned in the Gospels.