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Part 3: The Lord's Prayer

The Small Catechism

by Dr. Martin Luther
As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.

The Lord’s Prayer

The Introduction
Our Father, Who art in heaven.
What does this mean?
God would hereby tenderly invite us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him with all boldness and confidence, as children ask their dear father.

The First Petition
Hallowed be Thy name.
What does this mean?
God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be holy among us also.
How is God’s name hallowed?
God’s name is kept holy when His Word is taught in its truth and purity, and we as the children of God live holy lives according to it. This grant us, dear Father in heaven! But he who teaches and lives otherwise than the Word of God teaches dishonors God’s name among us. From this preserve us, heavenly Father!

The Second Petition
Thy Kingdom come.
What does this mean?
The kingdom of God certainly comes of itself without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may come to us also.
How does God’s kingdom come?
The kingdom of God comes when our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and live godly lives here in time and hereafter in eter­nity.

The Third Petition
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.
What does this mean?
The good and gracious will of God is certainly done without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may be done also among us.
How is God’s will done?
God’s will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil counsel and will which would not let us hallow His name nor let His kingdom come, such as the will of the devil, the world and our own flesh; but strengthens and keeps us steadfast in His Word and in faith until our end. This is His good and gracious will.

The Fourth Petition
Give us this day our daily bread.
What does this mean?
God certainly gives daily bread without our prayer, even to all the wicked; but we pray in this petition that He would lead us to acknowledge this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
What is meant by daily bread?
Daily bread includes everything needed for this life, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, fields, cattle, money, goods, God-fearing spouse and children, faithful ser­vants and rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, order, honor, true friends, good neighbors, and the like.

The Fifth Petition
And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who tres­pass against us.
What does this mean?
We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins, nor on their account deny our prayer; for we are not worthy of anything we ask, neither have we de­served it. But we pray that He would give us everything by grace, for we daily sin much and deserve nothing but punish­ment; and we on our part will heartily forgive and readily do good to those who sin against us.

The Sixth Petition
And lead us not into temptation.
What does this mean?
God certainly tempts no one to sin, but we pray in this peti­tion that God would guard and keep us so that the devil, the world and our own flesh may not deceive us nor lead us into misbelief, despair and other shameful sin and vice; and though we be thus tempted, that we may still in the end over­come and retain the victory.

The Seventh Petition
But deliver us from evil.
What does this mean?
We pray in this petition, as the sum of all, that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil of body and soul, property and honor; and at last, when the hour of death shall come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven.

The Conclusion
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for­ever and ever. Amen.
What does “Amen” mean?
Amen means that we should be sure that these petitions are acceptable to our Father in heaven and are heard by Him; for He himself has commanded us so to pray and has promised to hear us. Amen, Amen: that is, Yes, Yes, it shall be so.