Use this lesson plan to teach about the meaning of each part of the Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father). Students will learn the meaning of the prayer and apply it to their lives so that praying it becomes more meaningful and not mindless and memorized.
This lesson plan format is based on the Lectio Divina Lesson Planning approach found here.
The Lord’s Prayer Lesson Plan
- SWBAT explain the meaning of each phrase of the Lord’s Prayer.
- SWBAT make connections between the Lord’s Prayer and their lives.
1. Lecture on the Lord’s Prayer (LECTIO)
The Lord’s Prayer can be broken into two parts:
The first part articulates who we pray to (Father) and who we pray with (our). We pray to the Father and we pray with the Son and his Church. God is Father, but also Son and the Spirit in unity with them. God is in heaven, our ultimate destination.
The second part of the Lord’s Prayer includes seven petitions. St. Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the Lord’s Prayer “not only teaches us to ask for things, but also in what order we should ask for them (CCC, 2763). There is a method to the order of things we ask of God in the Lord’s Prayer. We start with God himself and his will, then we move towards ourselves asking for him to sustain us, forgive us, and help us stay in union with him and others.
I give a brief explanation on the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer in this video. Feel free to show it in class or develop your own lecture based on what the Catechism says about the Lord’s Prayer (CCC 2759-2865).
While the students watch the video, have them complete a 2-column notes graphic organizer available here.
2. Our Father Activity (LECTIO)
Divide the students up into groups and have them make up hand motions to express the meaning of each phrase in the Lord’s Prayer.
Read a full description of this activity here: Our Father Activity.
Or watch this video:
3. Meditate on the Lord’s Prayer (MEDITATIO)
Now that the students understand what each of the phrases in the Lord’s Prayer mean, they can begin to understand what each phrase means to them through meditation.
The goal is to add additional, personal meaning on top of each part of the Lord’s Prayer. We want the students to slow down and reflect, for example, on what trespasses they need forgiven or what trespasses they need to forgive of others. We want them to personalize the prayer so that they can start to understand what God is asking of them in the prayer.
The best way to do this is to turn each part of the prayer into a question. Have your students meditate on one or each of these questions. They can write their responses in a journal or on a separate sheet of paper.
The Lord’s Prayer meditation questions:
- Do you think of God as a Father? Why or why not?
- What do you think heaven will be like?
- What are your favorite names for God? We are called to be like God. What do those names call you to be like?
- Where do you see God’s Kingdom in the world today?
- What is God’s will for you?
- How does God’s sustain you and feed you spiritually?
- What sins do I need God to forgive?
- Whose sins against me do I need to forgive?
- What temptations do I need to avoid?
- Where do I see evil in the world?
You can also use the handouts in The Religion Teacher’s Lord’s Prayer Worksheets to inspire students meditations on each part of the Lord’s Prayer. You can find those worksheets here. (Members can login to access them here.)
4. Pray the Lord’s Prayer (ORATIO)
Now that the students can articulate the meaning of each part of the Lord’s Prayer and they have attached personal meaning to the phrases as well, they can pray the words with more significance and purpose.
Invite the students to slowly and solemnly pray the Lord’s Prayer as a class.
Lead them to pray each part of the prayer slowly with long pauses for reflection in between each phrase.
5. Contemplate the Lord’s Prayer (CONTEMPLATIO)
During those long pauses in between phrases, invite the students to feel the presence of the Lord among them. Have them to visualize Jesus the Son sitting beside them as they gaze upon the Father in prayer.
If you feel so moved, invite them to pick just one phrase that resonates with them the most. Have them recite that one phrase solemnly and repeatedly clearing their minds of distraction so they can focus on the presence of the Son praying with them and the Father who they pray to.
6. Homework Assignment (ACTIO)
Ask the students to think about how God is calling them in the Lord’s Prayer to treat others differently.
You could even give the students this un-graded homework assignment:
Go, forgive someone who has trespassed against you.
6. Assessment: Exit Card
Give the students exit cards (note cards) to check for understanding. Have them write a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer on one side and its meaning on the other side.
If there is one phrase that you felt was more difficult for them to understand, use it during this assessment. You will get a better understanding of what you need to go back and explain better in the future.
Get The Lord’s Prayer Worksheets
Our students recite the Lord’s Prayer so frequently in our classes that it can start to lose it’s meaning over time. Every once in awhile it helps to pause and reflect on what we pray in the Lord’s Prayer.
Using the worksheets in this collection, your students will add meaning to the words of the Lord’s Prayer by making connections between each phrase and their personal lives. They will do brief meditations on each part of the prayer making the words more meaningful and memorable.