The Lord’s Prayer

The following is my own translation of Matthew 6.9-13. I find it helpful to say the familiar words in a slightly different way, to help people think about what they are praying, instead of simply letting the words trip off the tongue.

Our Father in heaven:
let your name be honoured,
let your kingdom come,
let your will be done –
as in heaven, so too on earth.
Give us all we need
for the day ahead.
Help us leave our sin behind:
forgiven, and forgiving.
Lead us away from temptation,
but rescue us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom,
yours is the power,
yours is the glory –
now and forever. (Amen.)

Copyright © 2019 & 2022 Ben Green
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  1. The prayer splits nicely into three groups of three, bracketed by the opening and closing lines: our Father (is) in heaven, now and forever.
  2. The opening three lines (starting ‘let’) are all linked – it’s not simply God’s will that we long to be done on earth, but that his name will be honoured on earth, and that his kingdom will come on earth – as in heaven.
  3. I have paraphrased ‘bread’ as ‘all we need’ because I don’t think it is a request for a loaf of bread – or even food in general – in my own country where most people do not struggle to feed themselves, it’s still important to acknowledge how much we still need God.
  4. Instead of ‘daily’ (as in daily bread) I have used ‘for the day ahead’, which I hope brings to mind Matthew 6.34 (Jesus said, ‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’).
  5. The word ‘help’ doesn’t appear in the Greek, but the Bible often talks about God in this way (e.g. Psalm 54.4, Isaiah 41.10), and I find it a good word to describe how God works in and with us (see Philippians 2.12-13); we are neither alone nor divinely-controlled robots.
  6. The Greek word aphes can be translated ‘leave behind’ or ‘leave alone’ (e.g. Matthew 5.24, Luke 13.8), or ‘send away’ (as in divorce) - both are a helpful way of understanding forgiveness.
  7. Lead is a strong word, which I wanted to retain, while also making it clear (as per recent debates) that God does not tempt us.
  8. We need leading away from temptation, but rescuing from evil. I prefer the word ‘rescue’ to ‘deliver’ – probably because these days delivery is more associated in my mind with parcels than with God!
  9. I like the repetition of ‘yours’ in the final triplet, to place the emphasis firmly on God – and it helps to build the prayer to the climax of God’s eternal changelessness (‘now and forever’).