praying with repentance (Matthew 6:12-13)

June 27th, 2024

12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Today we step into our final devotion on the Lord's prayer. From all that we have learned, we should be encouraged to take each part of the prayer and expand its application to our lives. To pray true biblical prayers we must capture all of these things: praying to the heavenly Father who loves us, praying for the continued establishment of His kingdom, praying His will be done in us, praying for our daily provision, and now today praying with repentance.

Jesus turns the prayer away from the physical needs of life such as water, food and shelter and He ends with the most important need of all- our spiritual need. More than food on the table, or healing in our body or even a roof over our head, all of us are in desperate need of a spiritual nourishing and revival. This is why Jesus prays that God would grant us forgiveness. The imagery of "debt" is used here as a reference to the idea of sin. It simply conveys that we in our sinful flesh have incurred debt toward our holy and heavenly father. In a sense, we are now owing to God some sort of payment for what we have done. We must be honest in this, all of us commit sin each and every day. Either we simply commit sin by our thoughts and actions or we sin by failing to do the good we're supposed to do (James 4:17). What is implied here is that there is no such thing as a perfect day for the believer, there are only days of trying and striving toward God's standard of perfection. But since we all fall dramatically short, we are in desperate need of God's grace and forgiveness every day.

This daily repentance and renewal is the duty of every Christian. It is to remember that no matter how good we think we are, we are still desperately far from where we need to be. Repentance teaches us to search our hearts and search our minds for any offensive way that might be in us (Psalm 139:23-24). In this manner, we take on the posture of kneeling before the Father as sinners in need of mercy and grace which we find fully in Christ Jesus. For He is faithful and just to forgive us of all our sins when we come to Him in sincere confession (1 John 1:9). When was the last time you confessed your sins to God? How often are you repenting and turning away from the sins that overcome you? Make this your daily routine and seek God's purifying power.

Next, knowing that we are constant recipients of unending forgiveness, Jesus reminds us that we should likewise be the first ones willing to forgive others. How can we visit the well of God's forgiveness each and every day with absolute convenience and permission and then not offer that same living water to another? We all have fallen prey to such hypocrisy; ready to ask God for forgiveness and yet unwilling to forgive a brother or sister. The Bible is clear about this issue of forgiveness. Just as God in Christ has forgiven you, so shall we forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32). We cannot hope to come to God in honest prayer and yet hold malice, bitterness, hatred and anger toward someone else. We are even told that we will not receive God's forgiveness if we haven't forgiven others (Matthew 6:15).

It should be clear to us this far in the passage that we cannot go a day without asking for God's help and strength. It reminds us that we are weak in our human flesh and cannot do anything apart from the power of God's Spirit (John 15:5). Sin is crouching at our doorstep and it desires to overtake us (Genesis 4:7). We all are frail and unstable. Given the right situation and temptation, each one of us can be dragged away by our own impulses and desires (James 1:13-14). This is why the end of the Lord's prayer is about deliverance. It's the natural extension of repentance. We are to first ask for forgiveness for our past and then begin to intercede for our futures. We never want to be in an environment of temptation and neither do we desire to be at the mercy of the evil one, Satan. We all need to plead with the father that He might rescue us and pull us away from the dangerous traps set before us. When we do so, we will surely find God's hand of protection in our time of need.

As we close our discussion on this passage, let us remember this: one prayer will never be enough for our ongoing physical and spiritual needs. We must be at the Lord's feet as often as we can. We must visit His throne room as frequent as we draw breath. There must be a feeling of urgency if we have gone hours or even days without speaking with the King of Kings. For nothing can be more detrimental to the Christian life than forsaking to commune with God. Make no mistake, Satan will use every distraction and preoccupation to keep you from this holy duty. For it is within these heavenly conversations that the Lord heals our wounds, rebuilds our faith and fills our cup until it overflows.

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