“Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6: 12 NRSV Anglicized Bible).
There are more than 30 powerful prayers offered by our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospels, but what we are all familiar with is the Lord’s Prayer. Last Sunday (Pentecost Sunday), we prayed the Lord’s Prayer in whatever language we chose, to exhibit the way the Jews and Proselytes gathered in Jerusalem at Pentecost (to celebrate the Jewish feast of Shavuot – a time of thanksgiving commemorating the first fruits of the harvest) heard and felt when they heard the Apostles speaking. This action of “speaking in tongues” for edification as we saw in our New Testament reading from 1st. Corinthians 12:10, is a Spiritual gift beneficial to the recipients and used to edify others in Christian gatherings and hopefully we will be able to take the message of Pentecost as well in a language of we choose to others.
The Lord’s prayer we pray in every service worship, is in actuality the whole Gospel of Christ. One of the early Christian Fathers Tertullian said: “The Lord’s Prayer is a summary of the whole Gospel, since the Lord after handing over this prayer said these words; ask and you will receive, seek and you will find and knock and it will be opened”. In another context, Tertullian says “ The Lord’s Prayer embraces the special duties of prayer, be it veneration of God or petition of man, but every discourse of the Lord, every record of his discipline, so that in fact, the Lord prayer is an epitome of the whole Gospel”. So praying the Lord prayer is in a way, reading the whole Gospel of Christ.
By praying “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors”, the plea for forgiveness and the condition for receiving this are essential points in Jesus’ programme for the kingdom. Nothing shows more clearly God’s merciful love towards us than His Divine Forgiveness. Nothing shows more clearly our love towards others than our willingness to forgive them from our hearts. This is the point in the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus expected us to testify before God what we are doing. Our forgiveness of one another shows how far we have accepted God’s forgiveness and let that change our lives. Jesus drives this point about forgiveness home in the Parable of the Merciless Servant (Matthew 18: 21-35).
So what does this prayer of “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” imply as this time of the Corona Virus when we seem to be coming out of the isolation of this disease and returning to our lives as before? This prayer entreats us and calls on us to be ruthlessly honest with God. Tell God about how we have sometimes only taught of ourselves and not of others. How we have sometimes not appreciated the services of certain people in our society: like our health workers, doctors, shop workers and key workers (bus drivers, engineers, funeral directors, etc) and what they do for us. How we have sometimes ignored others just because we feel we are not in the same social class as them. Forgive us our debt means no matter what we have done, God like the Master of the Merciless servant will forgive us and wipe away our debts without charging us any interest on our debts or sins, all we have to do is pray and say sorry Lord, please forgive me and help me turn myself around and be your child once again and this is what this part of the Lord’s prayer mean.
Prayer: Dear Lord we ask you mercifully to forgive us for our debts. Lord, our debts are so much that only a God like you whose omnipotence is beyond our imagination can forgive. Lord be merciful to us and forgive us for our sins. Build us up Lord; in your own image so that we are humble enough to ask those we offend to forgive us and make us generous and humble enough to forgive those who asks us for forgiveness; for it is only in doing this can we fully follow your commandment of loving You and loving our neighbours as ourselves. Lord, help us to acknowledge that we have all sinned and continue to sin and fall short of your glory, and help us to accept that our Lord Jesus Christ came to die for our sins as our Saviour and it is through Your grace alone can we be acceptable to you, Lord. Amen.
Prayer for St. Boniface whose day we celebrate today – 6th June
Heavenly Father, we praise you for all who have been prepared to leave their homes and serve you in faraway places. Bless those who continue their work today and grant them success in their labours so that the whole world may one day acknowledge you as God and father and to you be all praise and glory forever and ever. Amen