The Lord's Prayer


Much has been said in this conference, and more will be said, I am sure, about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the great miracle of the resurrection and his message to the world. It is by him and through him only that we have hope of resurrection and life after death. Through his prophets and by his own teachings, he gave us the plan of life and salvation, which if accepted and lived will give us the greatest joy and success and happiness while we sojourn here upon the earth, and eternal life hereafter. While here he taught us the importance of prayer and how to pray, and it is on this subject that I should like to address you for just a few moments.
He said:
“… When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. …
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
“… Use not vain repetitions. …
“After this manner therefore pray ye [And he could well have said, “After this manner therefore live ye.”] … 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.” (Matt. 6:5–7, 9–13.)
This is often referred to as the Lord’s Prayer, with the thought that it should be repeated regularly and verbatim, where in reality he said: “After this manner therefore pray ye,” suggesting that the things he referred to should be in our minds and in our hearts, but prayer is a direct personal relationship in which we acknowledge our Father in heaven, and must be sincere, expressing simply in our own words our feelings of gratitude and asking for the guidance and blessings of which we stand in need.
First, as the Lord said, the door must be shut against the distractions of the world so that we may concentrate on what we are saying to our Father in heaven. Let us analyze the meaning of the words in the sample prayer which our Lord has given us.
He said, “Our Father which art in heaven.” By these words we acknowledge God as our Father, the Father of all mankind; and all men, whoever they are and wherever they may be, are invited to call upon him as their Father which art in heaven. What a glorious thing it is to realize and to know that we can go to our Heavenly Father without appointment, pour out our souls to him in all simplicity and faith, knowing that he is there and can and will hear and answer our prayers. We know that he is a living God who dwells in heaven, that we are his spirit children, and that his Son Jesus Christ has instructed us, regardless of who we are, to call upon God and to acknowledge him as our Father.
Next he said, “Hallowed be thy name.” How important it is that God’s name should be hallowed in our daily conduct, and particularly in our worship. We can best hallow the name of God by sanctifying his name and helping others to sanctify it. We should sanctify his name by showing love and reverence and in calling upon him in worship, doing all these things that would redound to his glory.
As we think, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” we must realize there is only one way by which this can be accomplished, and that is by our accepting him as our God and by living his commandments and helping to build his kingdom here upon the earth. His church and kingdom has been established here upon the earth today, and it can be built up only as we accept his teachings, live them, and teach them to the world...
If we pray that his will be done, we must be prepared to do our part. My father said to me when I was a boy, “If you want your prayers to be answered, you’d better get on your feet and go to work.” There is no use praying for the kingdom to come and his will to be done unless we are prepared to do something about it.
As we consider the words “Give us this day our daily bread,” we might well say “our daily needs,” as we should recognize that we are entirely dependent upon the Lord for all that we have. He is our Creator and the Giver of all things. He has given us a brain by which we can think and reason and learn, and he expects us to use our knowledge and the skills we develop to produce abundantly that we may supply our own needs and share with our neighbors. We are admonished to pray regarding all our personal needs and over everything that pertains to our welfare. How important it is to be worthy to call upon our Heavenly Father and ask for his help and express our gratitude for the bounties of life and all his wonderful blessings. As we pray, we should determine to use these blessings wisely for the benefit of ourselves and others, for furthering the Lord’s work, and for the glorification of his name. Only as we do the will of God do we acknowledge his sovereignty.
As we analyze the words “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we should realize that he has given us scripture and sent us prophets to teach us, and as we accept these teachings, we will be led away from and not into temptation. Keeping the commandments and following the teachings of Jesus Christ will give us the strength to resist temptation, and we will be delivered from evil because we will not be associating ourselves with evil or putting ourselves in a position where we will be tempted to do that which is wrong.
In the gospel of Mark we read, “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38.) We must pray for courage and strength, desire, determination, and ability to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and to do unto others as we would have others do unto us. As we prayerfully and continually search for truth, we should seek after anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy. By so living we will be helping the Lord answer our plea, “Lead us not into temptation,” and we will be delivered from evil.
Let us consider “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” It is interesting to compare this version as recorded by Matthew with those of Luke and Mark. Luke says, “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. …” (Luke 11:4.)
Mark expresses it this way:
“And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
“But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25–26.)
The Lord has said, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” (D&C 64:10.) We are further admonished to forgive many times, even seventy times seven. We should stop and ask ourselves if we are prepared to ask the Lord to forgive us of our sins and trespasses only as we forgive our friends and neighbors. How wonderful it would be if we would all forgive and love our neighbors. Then it would be much easier for us to call upon the Lord to forgive us of any of our wrongdoings, and as we repent and bring forth fruits meet for repentance, we can expect God’s forgiveness and mercy to be extended in our behalf.
The scriptures are clear concerning such forgiveness. We read: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
“But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matt. 6:14–15.)
Further: “Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.” (D&C 64:9.)
Our Lord gave us an example of the true spirit of forgiveness when he said from the cross, “… Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34.) We read also of that faithful disciple, Stephen, who was persecuted and stoned, “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:60.)
How important it is for us to apply in our lives those great principles of repentance and forgiveness. Let us always remember that the one who carries a grudge or ill feelings toward a neighbor and does not forgive is the one who is uncomfortable and unhappy and ill at ease, and continuing in this course will canker his soul, and in him will remain the greater sin. There are numerous stories with beautiful endings where persons who have carried grudges or harbored ill feelings toward others have had the courage and strength to, later on, go and apologize, showing love and making reconciliation, resulting in a beautiful new relationship where both are greatly relieved and happy together.
Now let us ponder the words “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” Again we are reminded that God is our Father, and acknowledge that the kingdom we seek is his, and that all good is accomplished not in and of ourselves, but by his power and to his glory. We must give thanks to him for all that we receive, realizing the importance of expressing our gratitude by the way we live and serve him and our fellowmen.
May we always remember and acknowledge that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, came and gave his life for you and me, and accept his teachings as the way of life and salvation, and be prepared to so live that we may be found worthy of his sacrifice as we prepare ourselves to enjoy immortality and eternal life. As we do this, we will bring glory to his name and salvation to ourselves.
“Amen” is a word used in closing to express solemn ratification or hearty approval of what has been said. Let us truly mean it and show it by our words and deeds.
As we pray, let us remember the prayer offered by Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane:
“Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.
“And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.
“Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
“And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt. 26:36–39.)
How important it is that we are prepared to say, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
President N. Eldon Tanner, General Conference, April 1974

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