Jesus taught us how to pray. You all at least recognize it; many of you have it memorized from so much repetition:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.
(Matthew 6, but I was going on memory)
I’ll speak for myself here and say that I have “prayed” this prayer without thinking. A lot. I’ve been in many situations–religious and otherwise–where this prayer was recited by a large group. So I recited it. Of course, I glossed over the whole thing in those instances, but I want to talk about one specific part that is nearly always spoken, but ignored. You guessed it: forgiveness. Glance back up and see what you just asked God to do.
Essentially this, “Dear God, please forgive me like I forgive other people.” (Hey, are you sure you want to ask God to do that?)
Have you ever noticed the couple of verses that come after this example prayer? Jesus immediately follows the “amen” with a specific explanation to His disciples:
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
~Matthew 6:14-15, emphasis mine
These are verses that have kept me awake at night, wrestling with God and with my own, self-centered heart.
I have a lot of thoughts on forgiveness, as I’ve done a lot of wrestling. For now, though, I’d be really interested to hear what you think. How do these verses strike you? What are their implications? Why would Jesus say this? Ultimately, though, are we to believe what Jesus says here and act on it, or just hope that things will be okay in the end?