The Lord’s Prayer. We pray it every time we come together to worship. We pray it every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. And hopefully you pray it first thing every morning and/or last thing every night. Its prayed at the bedside of the sick and dying. And it has been the final words many a person has spoken on this earth. If you do not pray this prayer regularly, perhaps you would consider doing so during Lent. Pray it every day, at the time and place of your choosing.
Kurt Senske, author of the book The Calling: Live a Life of Significance, is a great proponent of rituals – something you do every day without fail. He suggests 5 rituals that will deepen your relationship with God. (1) Pray at specific times each day, early am, late pm, etc. (2) Sing one hymn each day. (3) and (4) Tell someone and show someone that you care about them. And (5) Pray the Lord’s Prayer 3 times a day every day.
During the remaining 5 weeks of Lent, if you pray the Lord’s Prayer 3 times every day, it will become very much a part of your life – an antidote for your pain and an encouragement toward righteousness.
Tonight we’re going to skip ahead a little bit to the 5th petition – “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
These are powerful words to pray whether you need to forgive or need to be forgiven; when you’re feeling guilt or bearing a grudge; whether you’ve brought pain to someone else or you’ve been stung by them; when you’ve acted selfishly, or are the victim of someone else’s selfishness; when your tongue has been a weapon of unbridled anger, or your good name and reputation has been damaged by false testimony – these are powerful words to pray: “Father, forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me.”
Considering the power of these words, it’s no wonder that this petition is the only petition Jesus explained. In Matthew chapter 6, verses 14-15, His words cut through our hypocrisy like a hot knife through butter: “If you forgive people when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. However, if you do not forgive others, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you.”
God’s forgiveness is very precious – it cost Jesus His life. Jesus was willing to pay that price so that you and I would not have to pay anything. God’s forgiveness is abundantly and freely given to us.
But there is a catch – God’s willingness to forgive us is conditional, based on our willingness to forgive those who sin against us.
Let’s talk for a moment about what it means to forgive someone. When I say, “I forgive you,” that means that I have agreed to and commit to the following: (1) I will not think about the matter or allow my mind to focus or dwell on it. (2) I will not speak of the matter in conversation. (3) I will not allow the matter to affect my relationship with the person I have forgiven. These commitments are summed-up beautifully in Ephesians 4:32, where Paul writes, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.”
Someone once observed that, “An unforgiving spirit closes the door in God’s face even though His love still surrounds the house.” Don’t be that person. We, you and I, are forgiven people. In Christ, all of our sins are forgiven; We always have been forgiven, and we always will be forgiven. Here’s the thing – forgiven people are forgiving people. Since God has forgiven me, who am I to refuse to forgive someone else for whom Christ also gave His life?