Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)
Pray then like this:
“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 lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
Today’s verse calls for direct action!
From the Lord’s Prayer, there is one thing we need to do ourselves – forgive.
The first thing we notice is our prayer is conditional – forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. We are asking to be forgiven – in the same manner in which we have forgiven!
Whilst we are not entirely alone on this one, because God does help us, we are required to act. We are relating God’s amazing forgiveness of our sins (which were deserving of death and eternal separation from God), to our forgiveness of others.
What does this say to us? It says that our forgiveness needs to be complete. That our forgiveness of others also needs to be entirely free – there can be no condition to forgiveness! Jesus died on the cross for our sins – and in the case of everyone reading this, before we were born. His action was not dependent on our repentance, or on our request of forgiveness, Jesus acted in forgiveness before we even sinned (whether we accept that forgiveness or not is an entirely different discussion…)
And our forgiveness must also be open and unconditional. Even if the other person doesn’t recognize their wrong, or even if they gloat in their wrong, we need to forgive – because that is what God has done for us. This doesn’t mean we are to be witless and allow ourselves to be hurt over and over again, but that we need to forgive, and let the matter go before God.
Have forgiven our debtors
The second thing we notice is the tense of the phrase – that is, the past tense. We are coming before God daily, but coming before Him having already forgiven those who have sinned against us. We are not coming before God to whine and complain. No doubt, we may have had to come before God specifically over the hurt and pain we have suffered. We may have already asked for forgiveness ourselves for our part, and for strength and wisdom to let the hurt go.
But the key is that it is already done, before we come to God for our daily needs.
Matthew 5:23-24 (ESV)
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
As we have also forgiven our debtors
So as we pray this, remember that as Christ has forgiven us of our sins, so we should also forgive anyone who has sinned against us, that being much smaller than our offences before God! We also need to take time to remember any offence we hold, and deal with it. Don’t let it fester; don’t let it grow, but deal with it. We need to take direct action – now.