Memorizing Scripture

Verses for June 2007: The Lord's Prayer

By Jerry Truex

This month we are memorizing Matthew 6:9-13, the Lord’s Prayer, though many of you have it memorized already:






Pray then like this:

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 debts

As we also have forgiven our debtors;

And lead us not into temptation,      

        But deliver us from evil.


For Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen (RSV)

When we say Our Father (6:9) we imitate Jesus and call on the transcendent Source and Sustainer of our being. We call on God just as children call on their father. The fatherly title reminds us of God’s power and protection, but we may also think of God in motherly images as well (e.g., Isa 66:13; 49:15).  When we say, “Our Father,” we affirm our communal, non-individualistic, status as children of God’s family. (See Can we call God, "Father"?)

The first three petitions focus on God—thy name, thy kingdom, thy will—and also expresses our commitment.

  1. In the first petition, we commit ourselves to hallow or honor God’s name, just as Moses honored God on holy ground when God manifested himself as “I Am who I Am” (Exod 3:14).  

  2. In the second, we affirm our desire for God’s kingdom to come, especially as Jesus described it in the beatitudes (Matt 5:3-12).  

  3. In the third, we dedicate ourselves to God’s will, making God’s reign (in heaven) a here-and-now reality (on earth). This includes enacting Jesus’ six initiatives regarding reconciliation, adultery, divorce, truth-telling, peacemaking, and love of enemies (Matt 5:17-48).

The second four petitions focus on us—give us, forgive us, lead us not, and deliver us.

  • In the fourth petition, we ask God to give us bread. We’re asking God to meet our needs, including basic needs, but also higher needs like love, justice, and peace.

  • In the fifth, we ask God to forgive us of our “debts” (opheilēma). Literally, it refers to what we owe financially. Figuratively it means “trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15). Luke’s version has “sins” (hamartias). This petition implies that forgiveness is conditional; if we forgive, we are forgiven (see Matt 5:7; 6:14-15).

  • In the sixth, we ask God not to allow us to be tempted (RSV). The Greek word, peirasmos, can also be translated “the time of trial” (NRSV) or “temptation” (RSV).

  • In the seventh, we ask God to rescue us from “evil” or the “evil one.” Either translation is permissible.

Finally, the last line on the Prayer is in italics, indicating it was probably not in the original prayer that Jesus taught. The earliest manuscript that includes that line dates from the fifth century (the Washington Codex).

May the word of Christ dwell in you (Col 3:16).

Jerry Truex is the Pastor of the Mennonite Church of the Servant; instructor of Biblical Studies at AMBS-Great Plains.