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February 24, 2020

When You Pray … Forgive and Confess

When Jesus teaches us how to pray He teaches us that prayer involves confession.  Confession is necessary because the Bible teaches that we sin willfully.  We need to ask forgiveness for those willful sins.  The Bible also says that we can sin without knowing (Leviticus 5:17-18).  Because sin separates us from God, we need to ask forgiveness for those sins as well.  God’s grace extends to both types of sins, but Jesus also teaches that our forgiveness is contingent upon us forgiving those who wronged us.

Jesus addresses this in detail in his parable of the Unforgiving Servant.  He explains the actions of a servant who owed his master a great sum of money and was unable to pay.  The master, in compassion, forgave his debt.  The servant, though, refused to forgive a much smaller debt from a fellow servant.  When the master heard about his unforgiving actions towards his debtor, he imprisoned him until the debt could be payed.  Jesus says, “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:35).  The importance of forgiveness is further emphasized in the fact that Jesus ends the prayer with the following warning.  “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).  When you pray, forgive and confess.

 

Tiberius Rata

Associate Dean, Professor of Old Testament Studies