Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)
When Jesus exhorts to pray for the forgiveness of our debts he isn’t speaking of a literal debt as in a commercial transaction. He is speaking symbolically of our sins. We do not owe God a literal amount of money, but we have broken his law and there is a penalty to be paid which only God can forgive.
Few days go by that we do not offend the Spirit of God that lives in us either in thought or deed. Unfortunately there is still alive in us a sinful nature that raises its ugly head from time time so that we do things we don’t want to do and fail to do what we want to do (Romans 7:13-20). John wrote, If we say we have not sinned we make him [God] a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:10 ESV) Our need for forgiveness must be great or else Jesus would not have included our asking for forgiveness in this model prayer. If the confession of our sins is genuine we can expect that; If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)
However, there is a condition for our forgiveness. “Forgive us our debts (sins), as we also have forgiven our debtors (those who have sinned against us).” Jesus said, For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 ESV)
As God has forgiven us so must we forgive others. It doesn’t seem to matter what wrong has been done to us or how many times we are wronged, we are to forgive. Jesus said we are to forgive seventy seven times (Matthew 18:22 ESV). In other words we are to forgive each time we are wronged even it is by the same person. Jesus said, And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25 ESV)
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:23-35 ESV)
Do you ask God for forgiveness of your sins? Have you forgiven those who have sinned against you?
Scriptures for meditation: