“This, then, is how you should pray: 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’"
Before a person can ask for forgiveness he must first admit guilt, he must acknowledge his own failure. The sinner must recognize his sin. And we do sin. We do the very things that God's Spirit and Word specifically prohibit - those are sins of commission. And we fail to do the things that God's Spirit and Word specifically require - those are sins of omission. We fail in thought, in word, and in our actions. In John 1:8 we read: "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
But to ask God for forgiveness is no small thing. God has always taken disobedience seriously. Lucifer rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. Adam disobeyed God and was cast out of the garden. Because of his disobedience death entered into the world and his relationship with God was so damaged that it impacted the eternal destiny of all humanity. It was man's disobedience and godlessness that resulted in the flood - a catastrophe so great that only one family was enabled to survive. It is God's hatred of sin that is demonstrated in the sacrificial system - an endless parade of death and dying, agony and blood. And the greatest symbol of God's intolerance for sin is the cross of Jesus. On which God the Son was raised to a point between heaven and earth to endure the wrath of God - wrath that was earned and deserved by sinners like us. But that same Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Forgive us our debts. . ." And our debt to God IS forgiven; not because we are worthy of forgiveness, but because our Savior already paid the price - there is no longer anything owed.
Of course, asking for forgiveness isn't the end of it. Jesus is teaching you to ask God the Father to forgive your debts as you forgive the debts of others. Now that adds another dimension, doesn't it? Because God gives us grace and mercy we are to be gracious and merciful. We don't earn His grace by being gracious or earn His mercy by being merciful. It simply means that we are to reflect His merciful and forgiving nature in our interactions with others.
--- Pastor Keith Andrews