“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”He said to them, “When you pray, say:“‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” – Luke 11:1-4.
The disciples often saw Jesus in prayer. They had no doubts that He was intimately connected to His Father. Jesus prayed in the certainty that His father heard Him. So it was probably not surprising that they asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. And while they were expecting some profound, even extraordinary way to pray, Jesus explained how to pray in simple terms. Jesus modeled for us a life of total dependence on the Father. His prayer life and His instruction on prayer are educational and foundational as we seek to grow in our prayer life.
Perhaps one of the most striking aspects of Luke 11:4 is the qualification of the request “Forgive us our sins for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. The English Standard Version is translated more literally, “for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us”
The Lord’s prayer underscores the essential connection between receiving divine forgiveness and forgiving others. As we experience God’s forgiveness, we are called and empowered to forgive those who have wronged us. Jesus is reminding us that He wants to forgive us and He wants us to forgive others. He wants us to set others free of their sins, but He also knows it’s good for us when we forgive others.
If we choose to not forgive others we are missing the full benefit of forgiveness. God’s purpose in forgiving us is that we might be reconciled to Him and to each other. The experience of divine forgiveness enables us to do what otherwise is beyond our strength. We cannot honestly pray, “Father, forgive my sins,” if we refuse to forgive someone who has sinned against us.
We aren’t called to forgive because someone deserves it. We forgive because love requires it. We forgive because abundant life requires it. We need to choose forgiving others over our own sense of fairness. Choose to be like your Heavenly Father and forgive those who have wronged you. Colossians 3:13 says, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
The Spirit will help you. He will give you the strength and courage to do what seems impossible. Spend some time in God’s presence today and forgive as He guides and directs you.
- How does it make you feel to know God forgives you and your mistake is completely erased and forgotten in God’s eyes?
- Who can you forgive today?
- How does it make you feel when you forgive someone?