Understanding the Lord’s Prayer Line By Line – Our Father


The question of, “How do we pray?” is one that is often asked and one that was posed thousands of years ago by the disciples. In Luke 11:1-4, when one of Jesus’ disciples ask Him, “Lord, teach us to pray,” Jesus replied by giving us the prayer that we recite countless times throughout our lifetime—the Our Father, also known as The Lord’s Prayer.

Our Father Prayer

Jesus instructed His disciples and us:

“Pray, then, in this way:

‘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.

This short prayer takes a mere 15-20 seconds to say, yet is filled with incredible meaning. If ever there was a prayer that summarized our faith and what’s expressed in the Gospels, the Our Father is it. On his reflection on this prayer, St. Cyprian of Carthage, a third century bishop wrote, “My dear friends, the Lord’s Prayer contains many great mysteries of our faith. In these few words there is great spiritual strength, for this summary of divine teaching contains all of our prayers and petitions.”

​If you’ve been a practicing Catholic since you were little, you’ve been reciting this prayer more times than you can count. Like anything we do repeatedly, saying this prayer silently or out loud becomes second nature.

It’s important to remind ourselves to stop and reflect on the words we are saying. With the help of religious scholars and clergy, let’s take a closer look at what each line means, and how we can apply this prayer to our lives. Because as Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “The meaning of the Our Father goes much further than the mere provision of a prayer text. It aims to form our being, to train us in the inner attitude of Jesus.”

If ever there was a prayer that summarized our faith and what’s expressed in the Gospels, the Our Father is it.

Pope Benedict XVI

The meaning of the Our Father goes much further than the mere provision of a prayer text. It aims to form our being, to train us in the inner attitude of Jesus.

Our Father, Who art in heaven

We start this prayer by professing our core religious belief that God is our heavenly Father—the one who is all knowing and all powerful. Notice that Jesus didn’t instruct us to say, “My Father” but stressed “Our Father.” Scripture scholar John Meier explains that in God’s kingdom, we don’t live as isolated individuals but “we experience God’s fatherhood as members of the church, the family of Jesus the Son.” This reminds us that we recognize all those around us as children of God and treat them accordingly.

Hallowed be Thy Name

Hallowed is another word for holy or sanctified. When we say “hallowed be Thy name,” we are not only telling God “I recognize that you are holy,” but more importantly, we’re asking that His name be recognized by everyone throughout the world as being the ultimate holy power—that one day (sooner rather than later) all will know Him to be righteous, powerful, and everyone’s one true God.

Thy Kingdom come

This petition has a two-fold meaning. First, we are asking that God’s kingdom (where there’s only goodness, honesty, and love for one another) surround us in our everyday life. Secondly, we are praying for the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise that He will return at the end of time and grant us eternal life.

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven

We pray these words asking for God’s grace to move us to do His will throughout our life. That means doing all the things that will please our Father—even the difficult things, whether it’s something big such as moving an elderly parent into our home or volunteering our time once a week at the soup kitchen, to something as small as giving up a parking space or not calling a best friend to spread some juicy gossip. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says, “In committing ourselves to [Christ], we can become one spirit with him, and thereby accomplish his will…”

Give us this day our daily bread

Here we’re recognizing that all things we need come to us from God. We’re asking that God continue to give us not only the food we need for nourishment, but also the Bread of Life, the Eucharist.

And forgive us our trespasses,
 as we forgive those who trespass against us

This is a tough one. It may be easy for us to ask God to forgive us our “trespasses” or sins, but God in his infinite wisdom teaches us that in order for Him to forgive our wrongdoings, we must first forgive those who’ve hurt us. God isn’t being difficult, rather He’s teaching us that when there is bitterness and anger in our hearts, there’s no room for His love to fill our hearts. How can we ask God to be merciful and forgive our sins, if we’re holding a grudge or refuse to forgive someone who’s wronged us? Forgiving someone is often easier said than done. Only God can give us the strength to do it through prayer.

And lead us not into temptation,

Temptation and sin go hand in hand. When we come face to face with temptation, it can sometimes be difficult to resist. That’s why we need our Father to set up the road blocks and lead us far from the path of temptation.

But deliver us from evil.

Evil is an unfortunate reality in our world. The devil is always trying to tempt us and makes it his full-time job to look for ways to steer us from the right path and onto the wrong one. The devil has no power over God and when we pray to God for protection against all that is evil, He will shield us— always.

There are many moving prayers that we can say, but when it comes to one prayer that takes the main aspects of our faith and summarizes them in several short lines, the Our Father is the perfect prayer.

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Author: Laura Magnifico

Laura A. Magnifico is a freelance copywriter from Connecticut. She was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. As an adult, she continues to practice her faith and enjoys writing on Catholic topics.

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  1. Thankyou for the breaking down of the (our father which art in heaven) meaning I now have a more clear understanding of the Lord’s prayer.

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    • Wow im impressed, i thought i knew how to pray until i read this powerful prayer

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    • After reading the Lords prayer and it’s meaning, I feel Brand New, like I’ve been born again. I see things in a whole new light.

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    • This was truly a blessing. Thank you

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    • In God I trust. In the Devil Islam I don’t

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  2. Thanks, after all these years I finally understand how to find protection from evil and keep it out of my life,and that is to keep saying the Out Father

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  3. Comment. I have a better understanding about the father’s prayer. Thank you so much.

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  4. Why is there a difference in the Lords prayers in same bibles?
    In one of my bibles it reads
    “and forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors”

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  5. Thanks for scaring the devil out of my life by giving a deeper meaning of the Lords prayer. I am more empowered! Batlang Mmualefe, Gaborone, Botswana

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  6. for thine is the kingdom, the power and glory


    The about line was what’s added to the prayer at the end….was taught to recite this about 20 yrs ago….pls correct if required

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    • I was also taught that last line, but I was also taught that after that comes “forever and ever”. Amen

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  7. I have been asking the deacon in the Church I attend to discuss two aspects of our faith which I think most people who attend Mass do not understand. The first thing is explaining the parts of the Mass. What they are & what they mean. Second are the lines in the Our Father which you have done here.The article is very well done. Thank you.

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  8. I really needed to read this tonight. Thank you and peace be with you and everyone who reads this. Spread God’s love. It matters.

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  9. Based on the above study you are requested to explain the following Bible verses :

    1). Galatians 3:26
    2). John 1:12
    3). Romans 8:14-16
    4). 1 John 3:9-10
    5). John 8:41-47
    6). John 3:16

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  10. Thank you for the breakdown this not only helps me understand what we pray but read this article inspires. Fabian

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  11. Thanks for a job well done. In the lords prayer please what is the meaning of the word ‘Art’

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    • Art is just another ancient way of saying are. Listen to the old scottish bagpipe song about world war 1 and how it tells about burying the soldier “lay me doon in the caul caul grun” . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB2Ad04mukI
      Aramaic, gallic, anglican, saxon, norman, etc. variations had to influence the writing of the KJ bible. Trespassers/es is substituted for debtors/s in some versions.

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  12. Thank you so much. May God bless you and keep you.

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  13. “And forgive us our trespasses.”

    I have been puzzled by the above line for the past 73 years; but now I believe it would be better and clearer to say:
    “And forgive us for those we have wronged.”

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  14. I believe that Jesus gave us so much in this short prayer, you can find deeper meaning in it the more you contemplate on it. I say it in my car on the way to work every morning. Everything you could need is in this prayer.

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  15. This is a very good interpretation.I suggest that it is also translated into Swahili language.

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  16. The LORD’S prayer is amazing. The break down explains it just the JESUS wants us to understand the word.

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  17. Well said. I really needed this. Now i understand, so I can and will explain to my babies. In God I trust.

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  18. I am so glad I found this, everything but the “Thy kingdom come” part is self explanatory for me; but I’ve been wondering about that phrase in the prayer for a long time & now I know, Thank You

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  19. The Lord’s prayer has helped me through some difficult nights. With family, friends and work I was suffocating myself. It’s a beautiful and strong prayer. When each verse is explain, life has a better meaning. “Our Father”. AMEN

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  20. Thank you. I now have the understanding of what “And lead us not into temptation” truly means. I was confused and questioned why God would tempt us, now I know it’s to protect us.

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  21. This is the most helpful website I have ever found to break down the prayers into simple, modern terms. You have done a great job at making today’s generation understand what the prayers are truly about, and it has made me personally (18 years old) feel like I can finally get something out of my prayers, understanding what the words mean more deeply. Thank you.

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  22. I have noticed that there is no mention of praying about God curing those who are suffering, or sick etc. This is a very common prayer in all churches.. Will God change His mind and cure these people because we asked or will his “will be done” ?

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