Heidelberg Catechism: The Lord’s Prayer

Lord’s Day 45

Q&A 116
Q. Why do Christians need to pray? 
A. Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us.1 And also because God gives his grace and Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking God for them.2

1 Ps. 50:14-15; 116:12-19; 1 Thess. 5:16-18
2 Matt. 7:7-8; Luke 11:9-13

Q&A 117
Q. What is the kind of prayer that pleases God and that he listens to? 
A. First, we must pray from the heart to no other than the one true God, revealed to us in his Word, asking for everything God has commanded us to ask for.1

Second, we must fully recognize our need and misery, so that we humble ourselves in God’s majestic presence.2

Third, we must rest on this unshakable foundation: even though we do not deserve it, God will surely listen to our prayer because of Christ our Lord. That is what God promised us in his Word.3

1 Ps. 145:18-20; John 4:22-24; Rom. 8:26-27; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14-15
2 2 Chron. 7:14; Ps. 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Isa. 66:2; Rev. 4
3 Dan. 9:17-19; Matt. 7:8; John 14:13-14; 16:23; Rom. 10:13; James 1:6

Q&A 118
Q. What did God command us to pray for? 
A. Everything we need, spiritually and physically,1 as embraced in the prayer Christ our Lord himself taught us.

1 James 1:17; Matt. 6:33

Q&A 119
Q. What is this prayer? 
A. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.* For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen.1 **

1 Matt. 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4

* This text of the Lord’s Prayer is from the New Revised Standard Version in keeping with the use of the NRSV throughout this edition of the catechism. Most biblical scholars agree that it is an accurate translation of the Greek text and carries virtually the same meaning as the more traditional text of the Lord’s Prayer.

**Earlier and better manuscripts of Matthew 6 omit the words “For the kingdom and …Amen.”

Lord’s Day 46

Q&A 120
Q. Why did Christ command us to call God “our Father”? 
A. To awaken in us at the very beginning of our prayer what should be basic to our prayer—a childlike reverence and trust that through Christ God has become our Father, and that just as our parents do not refuse us the things of this life, even less will God our Father refuse to give us what we ask in faith.1

1 Matt. 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13

Q&A 121
Q. Why the words “in heaven”? 
A. These words teach us not to think of God’s heavenly majesty as something earthly,1 and to expect everything needed for body and soul from God’s almighty power.2

1 Jer. 23:23-24; Acts 17:24-25
2 Matt. 6:25-34; Rom. 8:31-32

Lord’s Day 47

Q&A 122
Q. What does the first petition mean? 
A. “Hallowed be your name” means: Help us to truly know you,1 to honor, glorify, and praise you for all your works and for all that shines forth from them: your almighty power, wisdom, kindness, justice, mercy, and truth.2

And it means, Help us to direct all our living—what we think, say, and do—so that your name will never be blasphemed because of us but always honored and praised.3

1 Jer. 9:23-24; 31:33-34; Matt. 16:17; John 17:3
2 Ex. 34:5-8; Ps. 145; Jer. 32:16-20; Luke 1:46-55, 68-75; Rom. 11:33-36
3 Ps. 115:1; Matt. 5:16

Lord’s Day 48

Q&A 123
Q. What does the second petition mean? 
A. “Your kingdom come” means: Rule us by your Word and Spirit in such a way that more and more we submit to you.1

Preserve your church and make it grow.2

Destroy the devil’s work; destroy every force which revolts against you and every conspiracy against your holy Word.3

Do this until your kingdom fully comes, when you will be all in all.4

1 Ps. 119:5, 105; 143:10; Matt. 6:33
2 Ps. 122:6-9; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:42-47
3 Rom. 16:20; 1 John 3:8
4 Rom. 8:22-23; 1 Cor. 15:28; Rev. 22:17, 20

Lord’s Day 49

Q&A 124
Q. What does the third petition mean? 
A. “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” means:

Help us and all people to reject our own wills and to obey your will without any back talk. Your will alone is good.1

Help us one and all to carry out the work we are called to,2 as willingly and faithfully as the angels in heaven.3

1 Matt. 7:21; 16:24-26; Luke 22:42; Rom. 12:1-2; Titus 2:11-12
2 1 Cor. 7:17-24; Eph. 6:5-9
3 Ps. 103:20-21

Lord’s Day 50

Q&A 125
Q. What does the fourth petition mean? 
A. “Give us this day our daily bread” means:

Do take care of all our physical needs1 so that we come to know that you are the only source of everything good,2 and that neither our work and worry nor your gifts can do us any good without your blessing;3

And so help us to give up our trust in creatures and trust in you alone.4

1 Ps. 104:27-30; 145:15-16; Matt. 6:25-34
2 Acts 14:17; 17:25; James 1:17
3 Deut. 8:3; Ps. 37:16; 127:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:58
4 Ps. 55:22; 62; 146; Jer. 17:5-8; Heb. 13:5-6

Lord’s Day 51

Q&A 126
Q. What does the fifth petition mean? 
A. “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” means:

Because of Christ’s blood, do not hold against us, poor sinners that we are, any of the sins we do or the evil that constantly clings to us.1

Forgive us just as we are fully determined, as evidence of your grace in us, to forgive our neighbors.2

1 Ps. 51:1-7; 143:2; Rom. 8:1; 1 John 2:1-2
2 Matt. 6:14-15; 18:21-35

Lord’s Day 52

Q&A 127
Q. What does the sixth petition mean? 
A. “And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one” means:

By ourselves we are too weak to hold our own even for a moment.1

And our sworn enemies—the devil,2 the world,3 and our own flesh4—never stop attacking us.

And so, Lord, uphold us and make us strong with the strength of your Holy Spirit, so that we may not go down to defeat in this spiritual struggle,5 but may firmly resist our enemies until we finally win the complete victory.6

1 Ps. 103:14-16; John 15:1-5
2 2 Cor. 11:14; Eph. 6:10-13; 1 Pet. 5:8
3 John 15:18-21
4 Rom. 7:23; Gal. 5:17
5 Matt. 10:19-20; 26:41; Mark 13:33; Rom. 5:3-5
6 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 3:13; 5:23

Q&A 128
Q. What does your conclusion to this prayer mean? 
A. “For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever” means:

We have made all these petitions of you because, as our all-powerful king, you are both willing and able to give us all that is good;1 and because your holy name, and not we ourselves, should receive all the praise, forever.2

1 Rom. 10:11-13; 2 Pet. 2:9 2 Ps. 115:1; John 14:13

Q&A 129
Q. What does that little word “Amen” express? 
A. “Amen” means:

This shall truly and surely be!

It is even more sure that God listens to my prayer than that I really desire what I pray for.1

1 Isa. 65:24; 2 Cor. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:13

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