Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
The fourth exercise in “The Lord’s Prayer Workout” is the prayer of forgiveness; both for your sins and for those who have sinned against you. Even though the believer has been saved perfectly and given a new nature, they can still be tempted and sin (James 1:13-15). The prayer of repentance should be a common prayer for the believer whenever they disobey God in thought, word or deed. Likewise, when other people sin against the disciple, they should forgive them of their sins just like how God has forgiven their sins.
In the parable of the “Unmerciful Servant” found in Matthew 18:21-35, God will punish all people (whether Christian or not) who do not forgive the sins of others against them. If God can forgive our greater debts against Him, we can by the power of the Holy Spirit forgive the lessor debts against us. C.S. Lewis wrote, “Forgiveness does not mean excusing.”
Our forgiveness doesn’t condone the behavior of those who sinned against us or remove their consequences. However, it does remove the bitterness from our heart so that we can be healed.
Jesus plainly said in Matthew 6:14-15, “14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Jesus taught, both in the Lord’s Prayer and in His teachings, that if His disciples did not forgive others their sins, the sins they committed would not be forgiven.
Also, just as Jesus taught us to pray in the plural for “our” daily bread, we are to pray in the plural for “our” debts and forgive “our” debtors. The disciple is not only to pray that God forgives their own personal sins, but we are to also pray that God forgives the sins of our community. Praying for the forgiveness of other people’s sins is called “intercession.” For example, Daniel, the Old Testament prayer warrior, while living in Babylon, not only prayed for his sins to be forgiven, but also for the whole nation of Israel (Daniel 9).
From this point forward in your prayer times, pray for your sins to be forgiven as well as the sins of your community. By the blood of Jesus shed on the cross and armed with the power of forgiveness, sin will be defeated in your life instantaneously and eventually in your community. I believe that God’s forgiveness can come in fullness to all people and nations who believe the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Do you forgive others when they sin against you, just like God forgave your sins against Him?
- Ask God to search your heart if you have sinned against Him or others and need forgiveness.
- Pray for the sins of your community to be forgiven.
- Live a life of forgiveness towards others who have sinned against you.