“Forgive Us Our Debts”: Confession
This section of the prayer reminds us of our sinful state in the light of God’s holiness, our debt to God. Both sins of omission—not doing what we should do—and sins of commission—doing things we shouldn’t do—are accruing debt to God.
But it also reminds us that total forgiveness of our entire debt—past, present, and future—is available through Jesus! “Forgive us our debts” is an incredible acknowledgment of God’s grace. God can and will forgive our entire spiritual debt. (And He has!) This reality welcomes us to pray for forgiveness with confidence and thanksgiving.
“As We Also Have Forgiven Our Debtors”: Intercession
Forgiveness is a gift God gives to us, intending that we then share it with others. God’s forgiven people should be godly, forgiving people. This truth does not mean that we ignore, diminish, or even excuse their sin. It doesn’t mean we accept it or approve it. It doesn’t mean that we trust them, or that in the future we remain relationally close to them. Forgiveness takes one person, but reconciliation takes two, so all we can do is our part.
The Greek word most used for forgiveness quite literally means to let it go. In choosing to forgive, we are saying, “I wish God’s best for you. I give up my right to seek vengeance or justice. I leave your future in God’s hands.” The test of whether you have forgiven someone is blessing them. When someone acts like an enemy, and we forgive and bless them, we are treating them the way that God treated us when we were acting as His enemies. On the cross, where those who hated him had hung him to die, Jesus prayed in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
“Lead Us Not into Temptation, but Deliver Us from Evil”: Protection
Sin is real. The devil and his demons are real. The world is filled with evil and fraught with temptation. God’s people cannot afford to be foolish or naïve.
While we can and should pray defensively for forgiveness when we sin, we should also pray offensively—in advance—before temptation comes and evil lurks. Of course, our Father never tempts us to sin, but in this portion of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is saying that we should agree with God’s desire that we not bow to temptation and enter into evil.
Praying that God would protect us from temptation is just another extension of praying for God’s will to be done. It is saying, “God, I agree with you, and I don’t want to walk away from you in disobedience.”
- Do you truly believe that you are forgiven? Is there anyone that you have not truly forgiven and need to get some time alone with God to work through a process whereby you can truly forgive them from the heart? If so, consider journaling about this process of forgiveness.
- In what area(s) of your life do you need to be praying offensively or proactively against temptation and evil?
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