The Our Father for Children

The Our Father for Children

My homeschooling sister-in-law is discussing the Our Father with her first grader this week and asked for some kind of line by line explanation. So I wrote out some thoughts for her, based on what I remember from the various times I’ve studied this most beautiful prayer. I wanted to keep a copy for myself and figured I’d share my thoughts with others.

�Our Father�

We turn to God trustingly as a father who loves us and wants what is good for us. When we pray this prayer we acknowledge that God is in charge of our lives.

Note that we don�t say �my Father�. The Our Father should remind us that we all have the same father, that we are all brothers and sisters in God�s eyes. And, most importantly, it reminds us that Jesus, the Son, is our brother.

Also, the prayer reminds us that when we pray we are never alone, we are always part of the communion of saints, all the Christian people living on earth now and living in heaven with God. This prayer reminds me not to focus only on me and my needs, but to remember my brothers and sisters.

�Hallowed be thy name�

  We ask that God will help us to always say His name as a holy word and to remember that His name is the most wonderful word we can ever say and that we use it with love and reverence. God�s name by itself is a prayer and saying it with love draws us closer to him.

�Thy kingdom come�

We ask God to be king in our world and especially in our hearts, so that we always follow his rules obediently and with love. If God�s kingdom is in your heart, there is no room for sin or for anything bad, evil or scary. We remember that God is in charge, He is the boss. 

�Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven�

We ask that God will help us to do what he asks of us, just as the saints and angels in heaven do. More than that we ask him to help us conform our will to His, that means we will not want to do anything that he would not want us to do.

In heaven everything is perfect, everything is love and light and there is no room for darkness or hate or anything evil or ugly. If his will is done on earth in the same way as it is done in heaven, then earth will become just like heaven. If we allow God make his kingdom in our hearts, we will be living in heaven on earth.

�Give us this day our daily bread�

Here the prayer reminds us to trust that God, our loving father, knows what we need and so we ask him to give us everything that is necessary for our physical and spiritual health.  Bread is the most basic food and so it represents what our bodies need to be healthy, to grow and to be strong.

Jesus is the bread of life and that means that he is what our spirit needs to be healthy, to grow closer to God, and to be strong in faith, hope and love. Jesus comes to us in the form of bread in the Eucharist, when we receive communion. Even when we do not eat the bread, though, we can still ask him to come into our hearts and live with us.

When we pray this petition, we remember that we don�t have to worry about the future, what we will eat tomorrow. Sometimes we feel scared about the future because we don�t think know how we will eat tomorrow or how we will survive the unknown. God will always be with us and He will always give us just enough for today if we trustingly ask him to.

�Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us�

We know that God is always ready to forgive our sins as soon as we say are sorry for them and make amends to anyone we have hurt. We are reminded that because God forgives us anytime we hurt him, we should always forgive anyone who hurts us. If we refuse to forgive when someone tells us, I�m sorry, then we aren�t following God�s will for us.

�Lead us not into temptation�

We know that on our own we cannot be good, we need God�s help. So we ask him to help us be good, to stay away from situations where we find it hard to be good and to do what the right thing.

�Deliver us from evil�

We ask God to keep us safe from anything that could hurt us. This includes things that can hurt our bodies, but especially things that can hurt our souls.


  Amen doesn�t mean �the end� it means �yes�. When we say Amen we are saying yes to God. It means we believe that what has been said is the truth. It�s an added prayer that what has been prayed for will happen.

Originally Amen was used to respond when someone else said a prayer or blessing, it was a way of agreeing with what the other person said. Even when you say it at the end of a prayer we said yourself, it is still a way of saying: I meant what I said, there was no lie, it�s all true.

In Hebrew the three letters that make the word �Amen� stood for �God, faithful, and king� so Amen is another way of saying that God is king over the earth and over my life.

Other sites that offer useful explications for children: Our Father for children, Our Father in Pictures, A Simple Catechism

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  • If it’s any comfort, Rowling on her website and in her talks with kids does seem to be very concerned about being a good teacher.

    But as for her interviews—well, I think she spends a great deal of time in her interviews, pre-Hallows, playing games with the audience to avoid revealing things. And even now that she has laid down her cards, I think she still does her best to avoid giving her game away. Part of this may be personality, part may be marketing strategy. *shrug*

    And honestly, part may be discomfort. She was apparently more sinned against than sinning, but there’s no getting around the fact that her life has not altogether been something she’d want kids to emulate. If she stays a bit mysterious about the nobility of her aims and the love of her art, nobody will expect too much of her.

  • Certainly I don’t want to sound judgmental. I have no window into Rowling’s heart or her motivations. And she’s probably like most of us, full of contradictions and uncertainties. Sometimes we say one thing in one context and then something which seems like a direct contradiction in another context. And I reacted in part to the context given to the quote by the interviewer, which may have skewed her intended meaning.

    I mainly wanted to use her statement as a prompt to ask a broader question about the ethics of fiction.

  • Here’s a link to a story about Madeleine L’Engle and her writing.  Kind of interesting take on the matter of responsibility.
    Also, how about the stuff that Tolkien did not publish that’s being put out now.  Incest, etc. isn’t really my cup of tea for kids. 
    (I feel like a drive-by commenter, no time to do more than toss out a link….)  Jane M

  • Jane,

    An interesting take, indeed. I know that no matter how good a book is, there will be critics who find fault at both extremes simultaneously… too Christian/ not Christian enough.

    I have to admit Meg Murray was one of my favorite heroines. Could it be because I too had mousy brown hair, glasses, was awkward and bookish and didn’t quite fit in at school?

    Re: Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings itself was never meant for children. I think most of Tolkien’s work was aimed at adults. Notable exceptions are The Hobbit and Roverrandom, tales originally told to his children and his letters from Father Christmas. All the mythological stuff was different. It began in his philology, his desire to create a language and his realization that languages need stories, mythologies to grow. He was surprised when somehow hobbits worked their way into the material and became the heroes of the quest to destroy the ring, thus bringing material from his children’s story into the mythological world.

    Should we make a distinction between works aimed at children and those that have somehow crept their way into the nursery? As far as the responsibility question, I think in the latter case it must be solely upon parents and teachers who decide to give the books to children.


  • Hi Melanie,

    I’ve noticed a trend in our post postmodern culture today.  “Love” is everything.  A book or story can completely disregard the Laws of God, but if the message is so-called “love” then that is all that matters.  I don’t have time to go into greater detail, but this really disturbs me, for I’m sure that it disturbs the Creator. If we love him, we will keep his commandments.

  • “often in movies sacrificial love, what we would call ‘real love’ is shown and it is very admirable, so it appeals to even believers, but the same persons commit sinful acts that reveal a lack of love for God.”

    Yes, but I also know that while I am sometimes capable of great sacrificial love,  yet I also commit many sinful acts that show how much I fail to love God. What’s the difference? Concrete examples might help clarify the discussion; but I’ll take some stabs at answers based on what’s bothered me in the past.

    Of course there can be good storytelling which shows that contradiction properly as a contradiction and bad storytelling which excuses the sins on account of the love. But the coexistence of self-giving love and sinfulness in itself is unfortunately part of the human condition, it shows our fallen nature and our great need for a redeemer. It’s why even the greatest saints need to go to confession frequently.

    So why are these stories so troubling? Is it precisely because the characters do not repent of those sins and are still allowed to be “redeemed”? Or perhaps the problem is that in these stories the human act of self sacrifice is implied to be completely redemptive. Whereas in reality, while we are called to be perfect as God is perfect, yet the most loving acts we do cannot redeem us. For that we need Christ. So if a story does not allow room for grace, if it implies that human beings can act as redeemers for themselves or each other, then does its message negate the very acts of sacrificial love that it depicts?

    We need penance, we need purgatory. When characters jump past saying I’m sorry, making reparations for their sins, we sense something is lacking. It’s kind of a get out of jail free card.

  • “but if the message is so-called “love” then that is all that matters.”

    Good meat to chew on there. I’ll have to ponder this some more before I can really digest it.

    A couple of quick thoughts:
    I’ve certainly noticed that many things call themselves love which are not. So many people fall into the trap of thinking that love is a feeling, an emotional high, instead of an action of the will. And when killing an unborn child can be labeled an act of love, something is definitely out of whack.

    Also, love, like any virtue, is a habit. It’s the little things we do when no one is looking, the small daily choices we make that don’t seem to matter. It’s those little things that no one notices which pave the way for the grand gestures. Love is in the details and so is sin.


  • Again, I think we are in agreement.  My comment was simply a rabbit trail from the main issue you brought up about an author’s moral responsibility to child readers.  I think that many books and movies are worthy even though the characters are sinful. We are all sinful.  I am simply trying to point out that more and more movies wink at sin yet entice us because of an act of love.  For example, a hero/heroine saves the life of an individual, but ‘never mind’ that he is in an extramarital relationship or breaks a zillion govt. laws because Hollywood has effectively desensitized many from the idea that these behaviors are sinful.  I fear it has also desensitized the consciences of many followers of Christ as well.  And as you said, when there is no remorse, no acknowledgement of sin or wrongdoing, then the message of biblical redemption is effectively eliminated because there is no need for it.


  • I totally agree with you.  To clarify,  often in movies sacrificial love, what we would call ‘real love’ is shown and it is very admirable, so it appeals to even believers, but the same persons commit sinful acts that reveal a lack of love for God. This is becoming more and more prevalent.  Something’s amiss…