Prayer, proseuchomai, is more than talk. It involves the heart and includes action. Not only the action God takes in response to our prayers, but the action we take as we are transformed and renewed through our drawing closer to Him.
We not only pray, “Hallowed be Your Name” and “Your Kingdom come”, but we live bearing that Name and letting His will be done within ourselves. We not only pray, “Give us today our daily bread”, but we trust the Bread of Life every day and in the everyday.
And so, we continue to pray, and we continue to live out:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13, emphasis added)
Forgive us our debts.
Luke 11:4 words it like this: Forgive us our sins.
We are in such need of forgiveness, for we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23).
The “forgive” used in this prayer is from the Greek word aphiemi. It can mean “to send away”, “to yield up”, “to let go”, “to give up”, “to keep no longer”, and “to abandon”.
Another place aphiemi is used is in 1 John 1:9, where we are given this promise: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
As we pray, “Forgive us our debts”, we are continuing a prayer of trust. For we are trusting the promise that God forgives and purifies, that He remembers our sins no more and has made us whiter than snow (Isaiah 43:25, Psalm 51:7).
It is important in our praying to confess, to ask God’s forgiveness for wrongs we have done. In doing this, we are acknowledging that we have sinned, that it was indeed wrong. 1 John 1:8 warns us, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” So we must confess.
And in asking for forgiveness, we are choosing to let God “purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We are inviting His working in us to cleanse us from that which is not of Him.
Jesus was crucified for my sin. For your sin. He paid the price. He took the punishment we deserve. He died that we might live. On account of His name, because of the shedding of His blood, our sins have been forgiven (1 John 2:12, Hebrews 9:22).
Yes, we must confess so we do not be deceived and forget this gift of forgiveness.
The prayer continues, “… as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
In Colossians 3:13, we are commanded, “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
We have been forgiven. We are continually being transformed into the likeness of Christ. We bear God’s Name and we have taken on His character. And so we are called to reveal God’s forgiveness to all around us. Even those who wrong us.
Praying, “We have forgiven our debtors”, is also a prayer of trust. For we are trusting in the love and justice of God; that God is loving, but will also carry out justice in the perfect way.
In Romans 12, we read, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written, ‘It is Mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
Yes, we must trust God and His justice.
For it was out of His love and justice that He sent His Son for our sins, so “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:10-12)
This forgiving, it is not saying what was done was okay, or that it didn’t happen. God does not say our wrong-doings are okay. No, He calls it what it is: sin.
In fact, if we say there is no sin, then there is no real need for forgiveness.
Forgiveness can be hard. Real hard.
But thankfully, with the help of the Holy Spirit, it is not impossible. We can live out this characteristic of God. We can forgive as He has forgiven. And as He walked the earth, Jesus taught us forgiveness and lived as an example for us:
As He hung on the cross, He who knew no sin became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), serving the sentence for you and I, after being ridiculed and beaten, after being betrayed and denied and deserted by friends, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)
Before an apology was ever given, before a confession was ever made, Jesus spoke forgiveness. Jesus gave forgiveness.
Jesus shows us how we may forgive: through love. For love forgives, it “keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)
He teaches, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you who hear Me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even the pagans do that? And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. But love your enemies, do good to them. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Combination of Matthew 5:43-47 and Luke 6:27-28, 32-33, 35-36)
Pray. Proseuchomai. Pray for those who hurt you, who mistreat you. Do good even when you are hurt. Love. For even God is kind to those who do wrong. God has been kind to us, even in our wrong-doing. And when we show mercy, when we forgive, we are living as His children, as those who bear His name and reflect His character.
The post Teach Us to Pray: Forgive Us first appeared on The Overflowing
All Scriptures taken from the NIV
Greek origins and definitions from The New Strong's Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible by James Strong, Copyright 2010
Photo from Unsplash, edited by Jessica Faith