Question: The prayer in Mark 9 teaches us to pray. What meanings do the prayer hold?

The prayer in Mark 9 teaches us to pray.

What meanings does the prayer hold?

The Lord’s Prayer is important because the Lord Jesus teaches us to pray in this way (Mt 6:9; Lk 11:2). It fits the needs of every believer. When we reflect upon the words recorded, we gain some important teachings about our relationship with God and the priorities of life:

The following is a verse by verse analysis of its meaning:

1. “Our Father in heaven” – This opening address reminds us that we are praying to God, who is our Father in heaven. We call Him “Father” because we are born of Him ( Jn 1:12–13), He adopted us as His children (Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5) and has poured out the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (Gal 4:6). Hence, we should fear Him: “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear” (1 Pet 1:17). The words also remind us that our true home is in heaven and, for now, we are merely sojourners in this world (Heb 11:13–16; 1 Pet 2:11). One day, Jesus will return to take us to our Father in heaven (Jn 14:2–3; 20:17).

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2. “hallowed be Your name” – These words remind us to revere God’s name (Rev 15:4), which is “holy and awesome” (Ps 111:9). Today, believers and unbelievers alike often profane God’s name: believers do it when they sin and dishonour God (Prov 30:9; 1 Tim 6:1); unbelievers do it when they blaspheme God’s name, His church and His followers ( Jas 2:7; Rev 13:6).

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3. “Your kingdom come” – Jesus began His ministry by proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 4:17; cf. Mk 1:15). But where is God’s kingdom? Firstly, Jesus tells us it “is not of this world” ( Jn 18:36). He says, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Lk 17:21). In other words, God’s kingdom is where He rules: it is both in heaven and within submissive hearts. As Christians, we should pray each day for God’s kingdom to be revealed and joyfully anticipate the Lord’s second coming, when we shall enter into that everlasting kingdom (2 Pet 1:11).

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4. “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” – The Bible tells us that God’s purpose never changes (Heb 6:17), and no one can hinder His will (Dan 4:35). Those who help to accomplish His will are the angels in heaven (Ps 103:20– 21) and the believers on earth. However, because Satan is constantly trying to obstruct His work, and believers often fail to submit to His will, we need to pray that God’s will be done here on earth, as it is in heaven. Importantly, we should ask Him to fill us “with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col 1:9) so that we can implement it (Mt 7:21).

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5. “Give us today our daily bread” – God understands our needs (Mt 6:8, 32). Therefore, when we ask Him for our daily bread, He will answer us. Moreover, by asking, we acknowledge that everything comes from Him and that we are sustained by His grace. God says, “For the world is Mine, and all its fullness” (Ps 50:12). Asking God to give us our daily bread also reminds us of a number of important biblical teachings related to Christian living:

How can we receive what He provides?

• “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt 6:33).

• “Let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (Eph 4:28).

• “That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing” (1 Thess 4:11–12).

• “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim 6:8; cf. Prov 30:8–9).

• “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Lk 6:38).

• “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4; cf. Deut 8:3).

• “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” ( Jn 6:27).

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6. “and forgive us our debts” – We all have weaknesses; hence, even after water baptism, we may still commit wrongs, which can be likened to our accruing debts before God. Elder James points out that merely failing to do what we know is right constitutes a sin ( Jas 4:17). Therefore, he teaches us to confess our sins before God and to ask for forgiveness, so that the blood of Jesus can continue to cleanse us (1 Jn 1:7, 9). Thereafter, we should strive to do the “good works” that God has purposed for us and to be fruitful (Eph 2:10; Col 1:10; Tit 2:14).

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7. “as we forgive our debtors” – It is the Lord’s will that we forgive one another (Mt 6:14–15; 18:21–35; Mk 11:25– 26). The Bible says, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col 3:13); “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’ ” (1 Pet 4:8).

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8. “and do not lead us into temptation” – The Bible is clear that God would never tempt us or lead us to sin ( Jas 1:13). Therefore, we understand these words to be a request to God to not allow us to fall into sin or be ensnared by it (Mt 26:41; cf. Rom 1:24; Gal 6:1).

In another sense, “temptations” can also refer to the trials of life. In other words, we should ask God to protect us amidst life’s challenges, so that we do not fall away from Him, or do anything that compromises our faith. And when we ask, we can be assured of God’s help, for the Bible says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13).

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9. “but deliver us from the evil one” – There are many reasons to ask God to deliver us from the evil one, including the latter’s wish to make us fall. But he can only work if we have weaknesses. Elder James says, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (Jas 1:14–15). For this reason, we should ask God to strengthen us, so that we can obey Him, rather than our own desires. In this way, the devil will have no room to work: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” ( Jas 4:7).

Aside from leading us to sin, the devil may also try to attack us: to harm us physically or mentally, especially while we are serving God. We can see this from the life of Paul who had to face relentless persecutions. After being tried by the authorities on one occasion, he declared, “…Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom” (2 Tim 4:17–18). Hence, he offers us these words of comfort: “But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thess 3:3).

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10. “For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” – These concluding words remind us that, as Christians, our citizenship is in heaven (Phil 3:20). One day, we will reign with the Lord in His kingdom (2 Tim 2:12; Rev 22:5).

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“Amen!” – The Lord’s Prayer ends with Amen, a Greek word transliterated from Hebrew, meaning “verily” or “so let it be”. In saying this, we affirm the truth of the prayer we have made and ask God to fulfil it.
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