The Lord’s Prayer – Forgive Us Our Debts

(Jesus said…) “This, then, is how you should pray:

9 “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  – Mt 6:9-13, NIV

Meditation

After seeing how Israel’s leaders prayed through uncertainty, I choose to pray differently in this season of doubt, ambiguity and insecurity.  How?  I marinate (meditate?) on God’s character in prayer.  In quiet moments, I immerse myself in God’s names and nature. 

As I pray “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors”, I recall that He is Jehovah-Rophe (or Rapha): The Lord who heals you. (Ex 15:22-25)  God tested Israel in the desert of Shur after miraculously delivering them through the Red Sea.  Despite three days without water, they grumbled to Moses and refused to drink the bitter waters of Marah.  “Then he [Moses] cried to the Lord [for help], and the Lord showed him a tree, [a branch of] which he threw into the waters, and the waters became sweet… I am the Lord who heals you.” (Ex 15:25, AMP) Through the centuries, believers have seen this as symbolic of how God removes the bitterness of sin’s penalty through Jesus’ cross [branch].

This is an amazing image of how God heals us from the alienation, anger and animosity of bitter sin.  Like the sweet waters at Marah given to the Israelites in the desert, God offers forgiveness to grumblers and non-grumblers alike .  The lesson?  God’s healing is offered to anyone who comes to him.  The sweet water of forgiveness is available to everyone who thirsts!  Like the branch of Marah, God removes the bitterness of guilt and replaces it with sweet forgiveness. Like Our Father, we should freely extend mercy to everyone … even if they refuse to ask. (Mt 5:45)

Application

Are worthiness and forgiveness connected?  Are some people, more than others, worthy of forgiveness?  Absolutely… or so my sin nature cries out.  There are times when I feel jilted internally, when my ego is damaged and I am slighted.  Then come the deeper tolls of deliberate affronts when brokenness takes an emotional toll. What about financial losses or death?  Doesn’t the cost death surpass absolution for slander or lies?  Humanly, it does.  Biblical truth challenges this balance.  Worthiness and forgiveness are not connected!  

Maybe Portia, in William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, got it right. Critical of those who would pursue justice above all else, Portia states, “The quality of mercy is not strained… Mercy droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath.” When mercy is unreservedly dispensed, it becomes “the throned monarch better than his crown;” it is “an attribute of God himself.” (If you are not into Shakespeare’s prose, try these…)

CS Lewis wrote, “To be a Christian is to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”      

Paul wrote to the Church in Rome, “We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.  -Rom 5:8, The Message

Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  – Eph 4:32

Jesus said, at His death on the cross as Roman soldiers cast lots for His clothing, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”  – Lk 23:34

Forgiveness is a complicated emotion.  Forgiveness releases cancerous and venomous feelings inside the person who has been wronged.  If we wrong someone, or if a person feels that we have wronged them, forgiveness is key to healing each other.  As God’s Kingdom unfolds, He asks us to be ministers of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:18) If someone wrongs another, whether or not responsibility is taken for the wrongful act, Christlikeness calls for mercy and grace. (Jn 1:14)  Either way, the grace-filled offer of forgiveness removes Marah’s bitterness.  God cleanses and heals the forgiver by their action.  

Next Steps

I will watch the way that I respond to social media. I will think twice before I shame and demean those with whom I disagree. Figuratively speaking, I will offer those who wrong me the sweet waters of Marah. By forgiving them, I will heal myself.

Today, I will pray…

9 “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12  Jehovah-Rophe, as you have healed me from the bitterness of my own sin may I extend the sweet water of forgiveness and healing to others.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  – Mt 6:9-13, NIV