Friday September 25 2015

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Scripture: Matthew 6:7-15

Key Verses: (12,14) “. . . forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” “. . . if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Reflection: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches us how to pray. To this day, every Sunday as we are gathered in worship we use his template for prayer. Yet, have we read on in his teaching beyond the model prayer he shares to his word about forgiveness that occurs in verses 14 and 15?  It is a bit foreboding isn’t it. “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

What if we do not forgive others? Notice in the Lord’s Prayer itself that qualifying petition Jesus teaches us to make as we ask for forgiveness — “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”

William Barclay, the late Scottish New Testament scholar, shares a story of Robert Louis Stevenson. “When Stevenson lived in the South Sea Islands he used always to conduct family worship in the mornings for his household. It always concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. One morning in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer he rose from his knees and left the room. His health was always precarious, and his wife followed him thinking that he was ill. ‘Is there anything wrong?’ she said.  ‘Only this,’ said Stevenson, ‘I am not fit to pray the Lord’s Prayer today.’”[1]

Some Sundays, should we get up in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer and go tend to some unfinished business of forgiving others before returning to finish the Prayer?

Prayer: Lord, forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  Amen.

Author: Pete Peery

[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved]

[1] Barclay, Wm. The Gospel of Matthew, Volume 1, Revised Edition, The S=Daily Study Bible Series, Philadelphia:  The Westminster Press, 1975, pp. 222-3.

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