**And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us. ** Luke 11:4
In the 11th chapter of Luke, Jesus teaches us that prayer is a conversation with our Holy and Heavenly Father and that we are to pray for the coming of his kingdom and for his will to be done here in this life and in this world. We are also to put our daily needs before him, helping us to remember that all good things come from above.
Now in verse 4, He teaches us that our requests should come from a humble and clean heart. That we should fully recognize that we are flawed and privileged to ask at the feet of a Holy God. Then there is a qualifier. The proof of our repentance and remorse over our own bad behavior is evident in the reality of how we forgive others offenses to us. If we come before God asking forgiveness for what we have done, but then hold others accountable for their mistakes, then are we truly humbling ourselves or are we thinking we can fool God?
Matthew 18:3 tells us that we should humble ourselves like a little child and in verse 16 that if we have an issue with someone we should take care of it. Going before God with our requests can turn them into selfish demands when we are not able to forgive others the way we want the Lord to forgive us.
In verse 22, Jesus tells Peter that he should forgive his brother 70 times 7.
Chapter 18 continues with a story about a man who owed a king a great debt but was forgiven of it. Then the servant went out and demanded of someone who owed him a debt to pay all that he owed. He then put him in prison for not being able to pay. Verse 34 says that the king was angry with the first man and delivered him to the tormentors for not forgiving as he had been forgiven. The final warning is that the Lord will do the same to all those who do not forgive their brother from the heart. Really, truly forgive.
I have spent the last month and a half visiting our grandchildren. Sometimes, I just listen and watch them play together. It is entertaining to listen to their pretend play and their creativity. From time to time, an argument will break out. They holler and swat at each other and say not nice things. But within a short time, they are right back playing together. They have totally forgotten the past offense. They get right back to playing and enjoying each other’s company.
Children are our reminder of what God would like us to be able to do. Unfortunately, as adults, we tend to hold a grudge for years. Children seem to innately understand that offenses and fights are a natural part of life and that we shouldn’t take it all too seriously.
Jesus’ words remind us that we need to learn to let things slide. Because, if we are honest, He has let plenty of things slide for our sake.
So, prayer is not just about our understanding of who God is, or to remember to ask him about our daily needs, but it is a gentle reminder to come before him with a clean slate. Forgiven of all that we have done and forgiving others for what they have done to us, as well.
God is the only true Judge. And He decided to let us go free. Who are we to think we are more just than Him?