What Is the Meaning of "The Lord's Prayer"?

The Lord's Prayer, also known as the Our Father, is a prayer that is a series of petitions to God the Father. Many Christians recognize seven petitions, which go in order from petitions that focus on God, God's will and His glory, and the rest that focus on human needs.

Before the petitions begin, Christians call God "Father," which the great theologian St. Thomas Aquinas attributes to the fact that God creates, governs and adopts His people. The first petition makes those praying aware of the holiness of God's name, and the next petition anticipates the coming of God's kingdom. Next comes a petition that God's will be accomplished on earth.

The next four petitions focus on human needs. First, the one praying asks God to supply the physical necessities of life, and, in the interpretation of some, also nourishment for the soul. Petition five asks God for forgiveness of personal sins, which is measured in part by how the one praying forgives others. The next two petitions seek aid in temptation and deliverance from evil.

The version of the Our Father many Christians use comes from the Gospel of Matthew. There is also a shorter version in the Gospel of Luke with five petitions.