There are at least three things common to everyone alive: birth, death, and, in between those two, prayer… I have never met a person who has not prayed. It may be a spiritual prayer born of deep faith or the desperate cry in hopes that Someone might be listening after all. Everyone, everywhere, and of any age has prayed. It unites ancients, moderns, and post-moderns.
At times it is as natural as breathing while at other times it is difficult and painful. Prayer can be both easy and challenging; inspiring and disappointing; gratifying and exasperating; comforting and distressing. At times our longings are abundantly fulfilled and at other times we can feel ignored and our affections betrayed.
The One who prayed, “My God, My God, why have you forsakened me?” taught His followers how to pray and what to pray for. This series is a reflection on the prayer Jesus taught us.
Today we look at the second prayer request Jesus urged us to bring to God: “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. Last week we looked at God’s part (forgive us our debts); this week we examine our part — forgiveness. Must a follower of Jesus always forgive? Does forgiveness require forgetfulness? Are there some things that God will not forgive us for? And what about others? These are some of the questions we will be answering today and next week.
Today’s Scriptures | Matthew 6.7-15
Matt. 6:7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
Matt. 6:9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Matt. 18:21 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.
Matt. 18:23 “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 “When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 “But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. 26 “So the slave fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.’ 27 “And the lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. 28 “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ 29 “So his fellow slave fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, ‘Have patience with me and I will repay you.’ 30 “But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. 31 “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. 32 “Then summoning him, his lord *said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 ‘Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ 34 “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. 35 “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.”
Click here for resources for this series.