Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers

A Way of Life, Russell M. Nelson

Our prayers follow patterns and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. He taught us how to pray. From His prayers we can learn many important lessons. We can begin with the Lord’s Prayer and add lessons from other prayers He has given. 1

As I recite the Lord’s Prayer, listen for lessons:

“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

“Give us this day our daily bread.

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” 2

The Lord’s Prayer is recorded twice in the New Testament and once in the Book of Mormon.3 It is also included in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible,4 where clarification is provided by these two phrases:

  1. 1.“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,” 5 and
  2. 2.“Suffer us not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” 6

The clarification on forgiveness is supported by other statements of the Master. He said to His servants, “Inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you.” 7 In other words, if one is to be forgiven, one must first forgive. 8 The clarification on temptation is helpful, for surely we would not be led into temptation by Deity. The Lord said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.” 9

Though the four versions of the Lord’s Prayer are not identical, they all open with a salutation to “Our Father,” signifying a close relationship between God and His children. The phrase “hallowed be thy name” reflects the respect and worshipful attitude that we should feel as we pray. “Thy will be done” expresses a concept that we will discuss later.

His request for “daily bread” includes a need for spiritual nourishment as well. Jesus, who called Himself “the bread of life,” gave a promise: “He that cometh to me shall never hunger.” 10 And as we partake of sacramental emblems worthily, we are further promised that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. 11 That is spiritual sustenance that cannot be obtained in any other way.

As the Lord closes His prayer, He acknowledges God’s great power and glory, ending with “Amen.” Our prayers also close with amen. Though it is pronounced differently in various languages, its meaning is the same. It means “truly” or “verily.” 12 Adding amen solemnly affirms a sermon or a prayer. 13 Those who concur should each add an audible amen 14 to signify “that is my solemn declaration too.” 15

The Lord prefaced His prayer by first asking His followers to avoid “vain repetitions” 16 and to pray “after this manner.” 17 Thus, the Lord’s Prayer serves as a pattern to follow and not as a piece to memorize and recite repetitively. The Master simply wants us to pray for God’s help while we strive constantly to resist evil and live righteously.

Excerpt from Elder Russell M. Nelson’s April 2009 General Conference Address, Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers. Elder Russell M. Nelson is a Member Of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. View Elder Russell M. Nelson’s full address here.