Discipleship Lesson #13
How shall we pray- part 3
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Matthew 6:12
In the previous lessons, we have seen that our prayer life needs to include worshiping the LORD and asking for our physical needs. In this lesson, we will focus on asking for spiritual needs but very specifically asking God to forgive us of our sins. This is very critical to having a profitable and happy Christian life. Without it, we will be miserable and defeated, leading a bitter life.
Forgiveness is defined as “the pardon of an offender, by which he is considered and treated as not guilty” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). The act of forgiveness is simply us saying that the person who has done us wrong will not be punished by us. It is not that they are not guilty, but it is us saying that we will not punish them; rather, we leave their punishment up to God. If you do not forgive an individual for any reason (and there are legitimate reasons to want to see justice on an individual) bitterness will grow in your heart, and that is a dangerous thing. Bitterness, I’ve heard it said, is the desire for someone else to die, but it is you who drink the poison. Forgiveness is saying to God, “I relinquish the desire to punish the individual that has harmed me, and I leave it to You to help me get through this. I forgive them for hurting me, and I will not bring up those memories or feelings of hurt again against the individual.” But if you say to me that you cannot forgive someone because of how bad you were hurt by them, then you don’t understand what Jesus did for us. He took our sin on Himself—taking our punishment on Himself which He did not deserve. By this act, He forgives us our sins. Think of the contrast in this act. Jesus, God the Son, came to the earth, lived the perfect life, never sinning once, dying the death that we should have died because of our sins to forgive us. And we say that we cannot forgive!
The harsh reality concerning the verse above in the Lord’s model prayer is that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. What is seen in the verse is a comparison: forgive me like I forgive others. I need to revisit the topic of eternal security (the doctrine of once saved always saved) because the question will be, “If my sins are not forgiven by God, am I still saved?” Once a person accepts Christ as his Savior, he is given eternal life or life that will never end. Once someone gets saved, he will never lose that salvation. If we did not have to do anything to earn or merit this salvation, then we cannot do anything to subtract the salvation from us. We will never be in danger of hellfire again! Yet, what does it mean then to not be forgiven if we do not forgive? When we sin against God, we lose our fellowship with Him, and it is only through the asking of forgiveness for our sin that He will forgive us our sins and restore the broken relationship with Himself. It would be like my relationship with a member of my family. If I do something to harm the other, then our fellowship, the time of being in agreement with one another, is gone. We are still family, but there is a strain on the relationship. In the example when the two family members come together and forgive each other, the fellowship is restored. It is the same way with God when we sin. But if we do not forgive others, then the fellowship is still broken no matter of how many times we ask for forgiveness. So it is very important that we forgive others in order to restore our broken fellowship with God. This is a major key to living a fruitful and happy Christian life!
The question then, for you who are reading this today is, “Do you have any unforgiveness in your heart towards any individual?” There are a few questions that will show you if you do or do not. Think about these questions carefully:
1. Do you want that individual that has hurt you to get saved?
2. Do you pray for that individual that God would change that person’s life dramatically for His good and His glory?
3. In your mind, do you keep on returning to the wrong that that person did to you?
4. Do you bring up how this individual hurt you frequently in conversation with others?
If you said yes to one or more of these questions, you might be struggling with unforgiveness. Whenever you start to think about how that person has hurt or wronged you, just remember what you did to Jesus. Read Isaiah 53 slowly and realize that He did that for you and your sins against God. But He still forgives you, so you need to forgive others. To forgive someone you simply acknowledge these things to God in prayer. First, say to God that this person hurt you. Second, reveal to Him how the individual made you feel. Third, ask Him to help you forgive the individual. Fourth, remember and rehearse what Jesus did for you. Fifth, tell Him that you relinquish the right to punish the person to Him, and you forgive that person for hurting you. Finally, pray for that individual—that God may work His will in their life. Putting these things into action will help you forgive the person and it will look something like this:
Father, I have been hurt by fill in the blank. He did this to me and he made me feel fill in the blank. Please help me to forgive fill in the blank. I know you want me to do this because Jesus forgave my sins on the cross which He did not have to, but He did any way. I give you the right that I want and feel to punish fill in the blank and I forgive him, and it is not for me to bring it up again. In Jesus name, Amen.