What Does the Lord’s Prayer Really Say About Forgiveness?
When you pray, be careful what you pray—I’m serious, be very careful.
In the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples (also called “The Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father”), one part says:
“Forgive us our debts, as we have also forgiven our debtors.”
Some translations use the word “sins” or “transgressions” in place of debts, but the intent is the same.
The request is that God will forgive us…to the degree we forgive others.
That is, if we forgive fully, we are asking God to forgive us fully. However, if we only forgive partially—keeping grudges, holding on to ill-feelings, or harboring hate—then we are asking God to only forgive us partially. Our lack of forgiveness towards others could limit the amount of forgiveness we receive. Ouch!
So when I pray that prayer, I do so carefully and with some trepidation; some days, I even want to skip that part!
However, skipping it is not the answer. A better solution is to be steadfast and diligent in forgiving others—then we can likewise expect the same from God.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.