Secrets of the Lord's Prayer: Step One in Learning How to Forgive
"And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors." (Matt. 6:12)
Last week, I began to explain the process of forgiveness. We learned that there is more to the process of forgiveness than just saying "Forgive me," or "I'm sorry." For past articles in this series, simply click HERE.
There are six aspects of this process that I would like to explain to you in more detail so that you can really open up your prayer life with God. I will also give you a few exercises to work on to take you through this process. In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus knew that a lack of forgiveness would not allow the disciples to go deeper in relationship with God without addressing this issue, whether it is for our own sins or sins others have done against us. (Matt 6:9-15) The same is true for us today.
Confession discussions with God.
The first aspect of forgiveness deals with the forgiveness of our own sins, and we do that through confession. Having a discussion with God about forgiveness usually starts with a willingness to let God show you how you may have been at fault in some, or all, of your present troubles. This part of the forgiveness prayer discussion will involve letting God convict us of sins that we have committed. One way to do this is to pray through the seven deadly sins, pausing after each one to see if God brings up that sin as something you need to talk with Him about: pride, envy, anger, lust, sloth, gluttony, and greed. As you pray, say, “Lord, have I committed any pride?" Then pause and see if God brings anything to mind. If He does bring something to mind, then have a discussion with Him about what it was that He brought to your mind, agreeing with Him (confess) about the issue. Thank Him for paying for that sin and/or selfishness through the life and death of Jesus Christ. Continue working through the other sins, really pausing after each one so you allow God to bring something to mind.
It's important, also, to spend time realizing that this is exactly why Jesus Christ came to the earth. He came to live the perfect life here on Earth so that He could give up what He had earned willingly. This is how we are able to enjoy relationship with God and a future in heaven. Because of what Jesus did, we are forgiven. (Rom 8:1) We are not under the penalty of sin any longer; we are loved by God and now look to please Him.
Some have found it helpful to do a slightly different spiritual exercise to heighten their awareness of God in confession. They look at the relationships of their life as the guide they use. They ask God if they have been selfish in their relationship with Him, or their marriage, or their family, or with themselves, or in their work, or the people at work, or with their friends, or their church, or in their community. This exercise looks for the root of sin, selfishness, and helps a person become sensitive to the underlying issues in our life.Confession works the same in all cases - it is agreeing with God that He is right and you were wrong. Thank Jesus for His death on the cross for paying for your selfishness and sin. This first step in the process of forgiveness is a very dynamic way to go deeper with God and stand clean before Him. Yes, it does require you to be vulnerable before God but know that there is nothing you can possibly do that would make Him love you any less -- nothing. (Rom 8:38-39) His grace is limitless.
There is a much fuller discussion of this process in my book Spiritual Disciplines of a C.H.R.I.S.T.I.A.N. under the chapter called Confession. You can order a copy at Amazon.com in print or ebook formats.
Next week, I will go into the second aspect of forgiveness, again with the hope that you'll really open up your prayer time to God. 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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The Fruit of the Spirit explained simply and with relevance for today.
Find out what God is asking from you when He tells you to "be loving" or "practice joy" or "be peaceful," and so on to the people in your life. Get ready to experience life change, deeper relationships, greater success, and more joy. You won't want to miss this one! This book comes with video commentaries from Dr. Gil that accompany each chapter, easily accessible from your smart phone or electronic device.