Matthew 6:12 NLT
Forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
So this seems pretty simple at first glance, but if we skip over it too quickly we might just miss the fact that Jesus was using this prayer as a teaching moment for his disciples. So what can we learn from this one line of text in the Lord’s Prayer?
First, take a moment to think about where it is placed. Jesus put this call to repentance in the middle of the prayer. He has already established our identity as children of God and put the Father in his rightful place by exalting his him. From that position of understanding our identity, we are then able to ask for forgiveness for our sins.
But when we pray, we tend to put this at the very beginning, don’t we. We grovel into God’s presence asking for his forgiveness because we mistakenly believe we need to clean ourselves up before we come to him with other prayers or requests. That’s an old testament mindset. The Israelites needed to go through certain cleansing rituals and sacrifices in order to come into the presence of God but Jesus had come to establish a whole new order.
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Jesus was using this moment, like he did so many moments to teach the disciples the principles of the new way of life he had come to establish. We are invited to come into the father’s presence first by faith alone based on the finished work of Jesus and then it is there in his presence our sin is revealed, we receive forgiveness and we find the empowerment to change.
The answer for our brokenness is not to work harder to clean ourselves up, but to come close to God, to lean into Jesus and then turn around and be able to see the brokenness of our humanity. Jesus never asked us to clean up our lives and get rid of all our sin before coming to him. His invitation is just to come and in the light of his presence our sin becomes clear to us.
Jesus has conquered sin for us and longs to teach us how to apply his victory to our lives.
I’m glad he is so patient and kind that he doesn’t reveal it all at once, so we are not overwhelmed, but little by little he graciously walks us out of our sinful and selfish old ways and into freedom.
This is what my prayer life looked like when I was young… I was aware of sin in my life and subsequently avoided time with God because I felt convicted but didn’t want to deal with it. Eventually I would come crying back in repentance feel ok and start the cycle all over again.
There’s so much more to our prayer life than grovelling for mercy.
That’s the shame plan of the enemy to keep us living small and keep our prayers ineffective and immature.
SHAME makes us hide. It’s a grave misunderstanding of grace that makes us hide or turn away from God’s presence. God invites us to come close. No matter what mess you’ve got going on in your life, the sooner you learn you can run to him instead of running from him, the sooner you’ll receive grace and healing that empower you to live a life that brings honour to God and move into a prayer life that is far more effective and powerful.
The voice of shame says you are broken, you’ll never be free. It tries to convince you that you’ll always be a sinner, but that’s a ridiculous lie. You’re not that person anymore. Sinner is no longer your identity. You were a sinner but you’ve been saved by the grace of God and now you are a saint of the most high God, clothed in righteousness and welcomed into his presence. That is your identity in Christ.
The fruit of true repentance is a transformed life. When you truly understand the weight of your sin and release it in the presence of God you receive the power to live and walk free. It’s his purification at work in your life.
1 John 1:5-10 / 2:1-2
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
So let’s get super practical… how do we pray this?
First, ask God to examine your heart and reveal any sin.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
When it has been revealed then it’s time to confess it and repent before the Lord.
He who conceals his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them will find mercy.
Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not hide my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and You forgave the guilt of my sin.
Release it and leave it there with Jesus. Renounce the shame that you’ve carried and give that to Jesus too, he carried shame to the cross so that you don’t have to carry shame anymore in your life.
Receive the forgiveness and love of the Father… don’t rush out of his presence in this moment. Ask for his help to be able to change and overcome this area of your life.
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Brenda Drost is a Pastor and Speaker who is known for her warm smile and passionate preaching style. Whether she is teaching at her home church or out on the road, she loves to bring challenging messages that actually help people live out their faith in the real world. She and her husband live on their farm in the beautiful Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada where they have raised their four children. Find out more about Brenda here.