Forgive us....

This is an area we often overlook in prayer.  If we aren't careful, we will see prayer as a one-way conversation, a chance to tell God what we need/want and just look forward to seeing His answers.

We would be grossly mistaken to view prayer that way.  And we would also find our prayer life sadly ineffective.

This index, or topic sentence, involves two aspects.  The first is confession.  Our confessing to God.  We are to invite God to examine our hearts and show us areas that displease Him.  Not so that we can feel like a failure (although, we are!)but rather so we can be cleansed from our sin and turn from it. So that we can see we owe God a debt of righteousness that we cannot pay.  Our reminder of our need to have that debt forgiven.  Not just the one time need for forgiveness that results in salvation but also the daily need to have our relationship with God unhindered. There is something so powerful about confession.  It's not just telling God what we have done wrong but it is actually agreeing with Him about it.  Acknowledging that any sin is an impediment in our relationship with Him. Although our sin has been paid for (if we are in Christ), unconfessed sin is a barrier in our relationship with Him.  Scripture exhorts us to be serious about our sin, even going so far as to let us know that If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear; (Psalm 66:18)  We need to be regularly examining ourselves, asking the Lord to reveal our sin, and then to admit that sin as well as our need for forgiveness. I John 1:9 is such a comfort - when we confess whatever His Spirit reveals, He cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness, even the sin we don't know about! I think that if He were to reveal all our sin at one time, we would be so overcome with grief that we couldn't function.

It is so beneficial to spend time letting God's Spirit reveal the areas that fall short of God's standards. We have the opportunity to address whatever is hindering our relationship with Him, to make things right with Him...and with others.  God is really specific about having us make things right with other people before we can expect to come to Him in prayer.

Matthew 5:23-24 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.

Also, confession of sin keeps us humble.  When I make confession a priority, I am much less prone to judge others, much more prone to extend mercy and compassion.  I know how fallible I am so I don't condemn others for failing.

Look at the entire sentence - Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  If you think you notice a connection between our being forgiven by God and our forgiving others, you are absolutely correct.  Wow.  This is not an oft-mentioned doctrine!  But the Bible is crystal clear -- if we don't forgive others, our own spiritual well-being is in serious danger.  I have done much study on this issue and I believe that unforgiveness towards others is often the root of much depression, anxiety, rage, and other tormenting emotions.  In fact, I believe this is what Scripture is explaining in Matthew  18 when the parable concludes with the admonition "And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him.  So shall my Heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart."  I won't go into lengthy explanation (another post, perhaps?) but suffice it to say that God takes our unforgiveness of others extremely seriously.
As we pray, asking God to forgive our sin, we are also to be very sure that we forgive those that have wronged us.  Mark  11:25 says Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.  Notice the all-inclusive phrase -- "anything against anyone".  Wow.  Pretty much covers it.

Tomorrow we will look a bit more at what forgiveness is....and what it's not.  And how to do it!  For today, let's just go to the Lord and ask His forgiveness.  For whatever His Spirit reveals.  Amen