“This, then, is how you should pray … ” Matthew 6:9 (NIV)
Did you know Jesus has given us the perfect prayer to pray each day to help us get ahead of any offenses that may be coming our way?
In Matthew 6, we read about Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray, more commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer. There’s so much He could teach us to include in our daily prayers, right? I mean, if I were tasked with the job of teaching others how to pray, I’m afraid I may have included all the wrong things and left out some really important things.
And you know what I may have been tempted to minimize or exclude? The very parts Jesus seems to emphasize the most — confession and forgiveness. In Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus teaches:
“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.’”
And then in the next two verses right after the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus adds: “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 sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).
Here’s something I don’t want us to miss. If you are looking at the word count of this teaching as presented in the New International Version, the total teaching is 94 words. The importance of giving and receiving forgiveness makes up almost half of those words. Wow.
This grabs my attention and makes me want to lean in a little more to what Jesus asks us to pray about every day besides just requesting help and provision from God.
The Lord’s Prayer reminds us what the human heart needs every day — we need God, we need to be forgiven and we need to forgive. Which means forgiveness is supposed to be as much a part of our daily lives as eating and sleeping.
But I will readily admit, I’m not even sure I’ve ever done this weekly, much less daily. And maybe that’s the very reason I often have an unexplainable heavy feeling inside of me.
We live in a day and time when being offended almost seems to go hand in hand with being alive. Almost everyone is epically offended by something. Almost everyone has relationship troubles. And I would guess almost none of us are truly praying daily with confession and forgiveness like Jesus taught us.
I’ll be the first in line to raise my hand and admit this is me. I’m too easily offended. I’m too quick to get defensive. I’m too slow to turn to prayer. I’m very rarely confessing. And I’m too often not forgiving.
But I want to change this. I want to mature in this.
I know I won’t do this perfectly. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try it at all.
Just a few weeks ago, someone I’ve been trying to help completely blindsided me with a reaction that felt extremely out of character and honestly undeserved. I was hurt. All I wanted to do was pull back from helping and give way to a full unleashing of my hurt on her. I could feel bitterness rising up.
But instead of immediately reacting, I remembered how, earlier that morning, I had prayed the Lord’s Prayer and confessed several things to the Lord in which my own heart needed some work.
I’d pre-decided to forgive those who might do or say something that might hurt me or stir up my strong emotion that day.
Instead of letting my anger move me to cause more hurt and pain, I simply let my anger inform me that something needed to be settled between my friend and me. I asked her if she could come over to my house, and instead of us trying to figure it out or talk it out, maybe we could pray it through together.
I let Jesus in me talk to Jesus in her. As we prayed, the most unexplainable peace washed over us both. It didn’t necessarily solve the issue at hand. But it did prevent the chaos of adding in more hurt, more confusion and more opportunities for resentment.
Confession breaks the cycle of chaos inside of me.
Forgiveness breaks the cycle of chaos between us.
The Lord’s Prayer prepared my heart for something I didn’t even know was coming later that day.
The best time to forgive is before we are ever offended.
The next best time to forgive is right now.
Jesus, thank You for teaching me how to pray — not necessarily the prayer I want to pray sometimes, but the prayer I need to pray. Help me remember today that confession and forgiveness are good for my heart, that they help lessen the chaos and lift the heaviness I sometimes feel deep inside. Thank You for helping me do this. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
Proverbs 19:11, “A person's wisdom yields patience; it is to one's glory to overlook an offense.” (NIV)
Walk through a step-by-step process to free yourself from the hurt of your past and feel less offended today with the help of Lysa TerKeurst’s newest book, Forgiving What You Can’t Forget. Order your copy here today.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
What encouraged you or challenged you in today’s devotion? Is there anything you need to start implementing in your own life? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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