Our Father – This prayer is the family prayer that only believers can pray. It is the prayer of God's adopted children. God is the creator of all men, but only the Father of the regenerate. The Fatherhood of God is not general but specific. We are sons and daughters through faith in the accomplishment of Christ, our elder brother. New birth brings us into a new relationship with God. His saving power makes him our Parent. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).
who art in heaven – Our relationship with our Father is intimate but not familiar. We are always lowly before him and he is lofty. In actuality he is above the heavens and descends to the region of the angelic hosts. His condescension towards us is the mark of the humility of the Most Highest. We stand in awe of him and wonder at his willing proximity to us in his Son, his word, and by his Spirit.
Hallowed be thy name – Although we are to hallow the name of God in our hearts and in public this request refers to God's manifestation of his own holiness in his presence and deeds in the midst of his creation. It expresses the desire that God should display his majesty and sovereignty in decisive action before angels and men. It sets the tone of the prayer, which is all about divine action and human dependence and wonderment.
Thy kingdom come – The kingdom is brought into being by God. It is not of human construction. We testify to its inauguration through the gospel and will witness its completion in Christ, but the kingdom is God-wrought. We desire it, plead for it, and announce it, but the kingdom can only come through God's grace and power. It invades and overthrows the kingdom of darkness which is man's natural environment from which we must be delivered by divine intervention.
Thy will be done – This petition is not enabling, or a concession we make to God. His will of decree is always fulfilled. His revealed will is mankind's rule and by his grace it is obeyed. It is the law of love and holiness and it will triumph over evil.
On earth as it is in heaven – Earth has rebelled against God after the pattern of the disobedient angels. These have been cast out and heaven is now the place of willing and instant compliance with God's purpose and commands. Heaven is harmonious and this part of the prayer desires that all discord between God and man be removed. Such a development is the floodgate of blessing. All of this world's ills and griefs will cease in submission to God's wise and beneficent sovereignty.
Give us this day our daily bread – Our very and basic existence depends upon God's provision. Bread is symbolic of the essentials of life. God is far more generous than that, but we are being taught, once again to rely on his sufficiency and to be content with what is sufficient when he deigns to supply it in whatever quantity. “Daily” refers to his reliability and our adequate satisfaction. We will not go without but we should not succumb to greed or covetousness.
And forgive us our trespasses – This is our most urgent need, pardon for sin and acceptance with God. Bread sustains us in this life; forgiveness admits us to the life to come. Forgiveness is God's prerogative and gift. It is the merciful action of his will performed in Christ. Forgiveness is a sovereign determination to grant us grace and restore us to fellowship and compatibility with God who has chosen to be our Father. Salvation is all of God. We have offended him and he offers reconciliation to which he moves us by word and Spirit.
As we forgive them that trespass against us – This is the difficulty that we must admit can only be resolved through grace at work within us. It is not the condition for salvation but confirmation that salvation is ours. As vessels of mercy we become the vehicles of mercy. It is ingrained in the new nature – this desire to be at one with each member of the family. Forgiveness is our disposition but it can only be released to another upon confession and repentance that leads to a sense of responsibility in the offending party and rapprochement with the party who has been wronged.
And lead us not into temptation – God tempts no one to evil but for our humbling and chastisement he may leave us to our own devices and desires and the disasters into which temptation leads us. We ask that he will not remove his hand from our lives or his Spirit's influences from our minds and consciences. May he remain with us in every test of loyalty we encounter and keep us firm in faith and obedience. The great test is to remain faithful in any threat to our wellbeing. Jesus warns us of this in his Gethsemane agonizings.
But deliver us from evil – If we knew the strength and dimensions of evil within this world and ourselves we would pray this petition often and ardently. Evil is manifested enough for us to recognize the phenomenon, but it is often masked sufficiently well to cause us to underestimate its power and prevalence. It is a universal and unrelenting force manipulated by Satan through strategies that would amaze us. God is our only protector and rescuer, and the only one who can ingeniously remedy evil's ill effects. Deliver us is a constant plea.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. Forever and ever – the Lord's Prayer is affirmative of God's greatness and goodness. All splendour and strength is his. He did not progress in majesty and might. He is eternal in his being and perfection. He is the God worthy of our reverence and trust. Amen.