Secrets of the Lord's Prayer: Lord, Teach Me How to Forgive!
"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matt. 6:12)
I hope you are enjoying this series on the Secrets of the Lord's Prayer, which is Jesus' answer to the disciples' question about how to go deeper with God the Father and have a more real relationship with Him. For past articles in this series, simply click HERE.
This next verse, Matthew 6:12, is so rich and so deep that we will spend several weeks plumbing the depths of what Jesus is really saying when he talks about forgiveness for ourselves and others. We will need to have lots of conversations with God about what others do against us and what we do against others.
In this world, we will feel wronged. We will do things that are selfish and sinful. We will have a hard time forgiving others and forgiving ourselves. Some of us will live in a prison of our own making, trapped by bitterness and/or guilt. Jesus knows that we will need extensive dialogue with God about confession and forgiveness because He has left us in a sinful world. We will need to receive the forgiveness of God and give God's love and forgiveness to others. Without these two graces, we will not be able to plumb the depths of intimacy with God, and we will not be able to enter into other relationships at great depth.
It is not sufficient on its own to just say, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us...." We must utilize the spiritual exercises surrounding forgiveness. When we are talking with God about forgiveness, we are talking with Him about the sins of others, our sins, why He is permitting sin, and how to access His grace and mercy to operate in this fallen world. All of these ideas need to be discussed with God, and His answers interacted with.
It is not just about you gaining forgiveness, which is the surface idea in the verse. We can only imagine that Jesus, the man, had interesting discussions with God about the selfishness, sin, and difficulties He saw all around him in the towns and villages He visited. This is not the ideal world that was given to Adam and Eve. It has suffered from the ravages of rebellion and sin. Too many people are unwilling to have these discussions with God, however. They would rather just stay angry with Him or remain imprisoned in their own emotional cage. But a living prayer life will need to discuss these issues with God and allow Him to lead you to biblical and practical answers.
I have found that dealing adequately with the issue of forgiveness involves at least six different topics and spiritual exercises. First, the issue of confession of our own sins. Second, the forgiveness and release of bitterness of what others have done to us. Third, the forgiving of our selves and what we did or did not do which brought about our present state. Fourth, setting goals for the rest of our lives so we don't stay stuck in the present or the past. Fifth, letting God love us in new ways and letting His love flow through us in more powerful and very specific ways. Sixth, bringing a new peace to our life after the issues of the past by embracing harmony, order, and calm. These issues of confession, forgiveness, goals, love, and peace are all part of the discussion with God which will change our lives and give us the type of intimate life with God that Jesus enjoyed here on earth.
Next week, I will go into the first of these in more detail so that you can open up your prayer life to these discussions and spiritual exercises. In the meantime, I hope you will pray a prayer to God that asks him to open up this idea of forgiveness to you in ways you haven't contemplated before. Connect with me on this! I would love to hear about some of your new revelations and how God has impacted your life in this area. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, your greatest life is just ahead.
In His service,
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