"Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…" the words are so familiar that it's sometimes easy to forget what the Lord's prayer actually means, and what it asks of us as Christians. The Lord's Prayer, also called Our Father Prayer, is a prayer of central importance to Christians because it not only venerates the will of God, but also gives us an opportunity to give thanks to God for our many blessings, and to forgive and be forgiven by those with whom we disagree.
The original Lord's Prayer is taken from Matthew 6 9-13 and is part of Jesus' famous Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus discourages His disciples from making ostentatious shows of their piety, such as praying on the street corner or giving to the poor in order to receive praise and recognition. Instead, He instructs His followers to pray this prayer in private:
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.
Jesus follows up the prayer by saying: "For if we forgive others of their transgressions, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your father will not forgive your transgressions."
This line emphasizes the importance of forgiveness in the New Testament doctrine. Jesus does not want His followers to take "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," as the Old Testament does. In fact, His system of forgiveness, in which people forgive each other before they come to be judged and forgiven by God Himself, paves the way for a more egalitarian society in which people take personal responsibility for resolving their own grudges, disagreements and disputes.
The idea that humans can make the world more like heaven simply by forgiving one another is echoed in the line: Thy will be done/On earth as it is in heaven. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus teaches His followers that it is the will of God that we are humble in our piety and that we practice our religion in order to gain personal fulfillment rather than public recognition. It is also God's will that we forgive others in order to settle our disputes here on earth before letting God determine the final score in the afterlife.
If you do as Jesus recommends and pray the Lord's Prayer at home in your quiet moments, Leaflet Missal offers a variety of Christian gifts like prayer books and prayer bracelets to remind you to pray and to help guide you in your communications with Christ.