In this article, we take a brief look at a sentence from possibly the most "famous" prayer ever...
“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”
Yahweh hates pride and loves humility. A proud person won’t believe/admit they have done anything wrong. This was the Pharisees. “[Elohim], I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” A proud person tells Yahweh how wonderful they are and how awful everyone else is. To be put right with Yahweh, we need the humility of the tax collector: “[Elohim], have mercy on me, a sinner.” (See Luke 18:9-14) “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
Self-righteous or humble, we are all sinners, whether we recognise it or not. A humble person doesn’t have to scratch around to desperately find something they have done wrong. They are conscious of it and their need for forgiveness. We are all imperfect people, so we need to admit that fact. When it comes to confessing our sins to Yahweh, we can choose to have a think about specific sins we have committed, or we can ask for a blanket forgiveness. Which do you think Yahweh prefers?
When praying, we notice it is about “us”, not “me”. So we must consider this an intercession for others as well. We must pray that Yahweh forgives the sins of other Christians, too. This is part of what it means to be Yahshua’s Body, suffering with those who suffer, because the Christian conscience does suffer when we sin. And maybe we need to pray that we all can be humble before Him, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of [Yahweh]” (Romans 3:23).
We can have absolute confidence that Yahweh will forgive our sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
But hang on a minute! Is it that simple? What about that second part? We can’t come to ask for forgiveness unless we have forgiven those who have sinned against us? This can be quite a scary thought. But it is absolutely what Yahshua wants to get across. “You can’t be proud and come to me.” Matthew 6:14-15 puts it across starkly: “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Freely we have received forgiveness; freely we must give it. No one will have sinned against us as much or as often as we sin against Yahweh. If He forgives us, how can we hold back on a lesser debt? (Read Matthew 18:21-35)
Our prayers for forgiveness must be in the light that we ourselves refuse to withhold forgiveness from any who apologises to us (and maybe even to those who have wronged us and don’t care). This refusal to hold back forgiveness is what gives us the confidence in Yahweh's forgiveness of us. Pray for those who “persecute” you and your fellow Christians. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). “[Yahshua], do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). We must pray for the persecutors of the church as we pray for the persecuted believers. We must forgive and pray for any who have wronged us. In this way we are being like our heavenly Father.