The Lord’s Prayer teaches us to pray for forgiveness of our sins based on how well we forgive others who sin against us. Jesus adds the exclamation point in the following verses by saying that if we do not forgive others, then God will not forgive us. This is scary stuff! We are greatly lacking in our ability to forgive; yet we are commanded to do so. Our survival depends on it. Without forgiveness we become a vessel filled with bitterness that poisons every area of life and we implode or explode…either way, the end result is devastating. And, as the Scripture clearly states our eternal future requires that we forgive. This gives us the ultimate reason to want to become good at forgiveness. Jesus died for our sins. God wiped them out with the blood of His son as though they never happened. They are not part of us any longer. We have a clean slate. As we recognize the forgiveness we have received, we are compelled to forgive those who have caused us pain.

Scriptures
Mt 6:9-15, 18:21-22; Col 3:13; Eph 4:26-27; Ps 32:1, 5; Lk 6:27-28, 23:34; Jn 1:29; Mi 7:19

Verse
“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. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’ For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sin.”(Mt 6:9-15)

Thought
Scuba divers are taught not to hold their breath; doing so can be disastrous, even deadly. When ascending to the surface from a deep dive, air in the lungs expands. Not breathing can cause the lungs to rupture. Forgiveness requires that we let out our hurt. Holding it in will only cause the pain to turn to anger, resentment and bitterness. When you suffer a hurt, you must admit that you are hurt. Holding it in, pretending that you don’t hurt or that you are too spiritual to experience anger will get you nowhere. Tell God the truth. Get it out. He will give you comfort and strength. Forgiveness is a choice. It may be a difficult one, and it may not all come at once. It may require that you remind yourself again and again that you have chosen to forgive, to let it go. Forgiveness doesn’t restore all relationships to their original state. Time and a rebuilding of trust may do that, or it may not. But either way, forgiveness will free you to receive the blessings God has in store.

Questions
Are you carrying hurts that you need to let go? What have you done to try to mend or heal the situation? What have you done to perpetuate the situation? When have you asked for and been forgiven by someone? How did you feel? Have you ever asked for forgiveness and had the person refuse? How has forgiving someone of a hurt they caused you made you feel? Who do you find it easy to forgive? Why? Who do you find it hard to forgive? Why?

Response
Examine your heart. If you harbor unforgiveness tell God. Make a choice to forgive. You may need to go to that person and release them from your resentment. You may be able to share your faith by explaining that God requires you to let this go in order for your relationship with Him to be right.

Prayer
Dear Lord, change my heart; make me more like you. I’ve been forgiven of so much. Help me to recognize that we are all sinful. Without your forgiveness we would be without hope. Allow me to be a messenger of your peace by forgiving others as I have been forgiven. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.