Why We Pray For Forgiveness
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Have you ever wondered about the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us”? Didn’t Jesus die for all our sins on the cross? Why do we need to pray for forgiveness now, some 2000 years later? Does God’s word contradict itself?
The Bible tells us that Jesus did die for all the sins of the world—past, present, and future—on the cross of Calvary. The good news of the Gospel assures us that we are forgiven through faith in Jesus. Nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God. This includes our sins. They were all paid for on the cross. God forgives sin without our asking.
Jesus teaches us to pray for forgiveness, not because our prayers are what earn forgiveness of sins, but because we need to be reminded of who we are and of what He has done for us.
As long as any of us are alive on earth, sin will be our constant companion. We simply cannot escape it! We want our own way and, besides that, we live with other people who want their own way, too. Added to the mix is the fact that Satan is constantly at work trying to destroy us.
You might be determined to stop sinning. You can try your very hardest to “be good” and to “do the right thing.” But, eventually, your sin will find you out. Some root of bitterness, discouragement, or envy will show itself. You cannot try hard enough to win the victory over your flesh, the world, or Satan.
What happens to your confidence when you are continually defeated? You lose hope! When you try hard not to sin, and you are daily overcome by own desires, Satan’s attacks, and the world around you, your conscience begins to doubt the truth of God’s love for you. You begin to believe that it’s all about you, and not about the cross of Christ at all.
Praying for forgiveness helps us to remember who we are and what is ours in Christ—forgiveness and eternal life. We pray for forgiveness to remind us that no sin is too great, no fall too far, to separate us from the love of God in our Savior, Jesus.
As We Forgive Others
Hearts that are changed by the Gospel message of forgiveness freely given through Jesus don’t harbor grudges or hang on to past hurts. It’s foolish to think that we could ever refuse to forgive another person when we look at the totality of what God forgives in us.
If you are holding on to a hurt, refusing to forgive a wrong committed against you, know that Jesus teaches you to pray “forgive us our trespasses.” Ask Jesus to help you deal with the pain and disappointment of the past and to move on. Know that allowing bitterness to grow in your heart will separate you from the peace and joy that Jesus offers.
If your heart isn’t ready to forgive, run toward God. He will help you. Pray the words of Psalm 51:
Create in me a clean heart, O God; And renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from thy presence; And take not thy holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; And uphold me with a willing spirit.[i]