March 15 – Lord’s Prayer Week 3
All in-person gatherings at Vintage have been canceled for at least the next three weeks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t keep meeting virtually! Click here for our blog post on how to do video meetings with your CG.
While COVID-19 is impacting us all, we still have the opportunity to connect and support one another through our community groups, even if we can only meet virtually. Over the next few weeks you’ll see some changes to our typical discussion guides, one change being shorter discussions that should work better for conversation over video chat.
Now, back to our sermon series. If you’re keeping track of the petitions in the Lord’s Prayer, this week we’re looking at the fourth and fifth ones, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
To actually pray this part of the Lord’s prayer you have to be willing to admit two things. The first is that you have daily needs that you can’t absolutely guarantee you’ll get (something we’re growing more and more aware of these days). Think about Jesus’ audience at the Sermon on the Mount, folks who may or may not have known where their next meal was coming from. Typically we all have almost immediate access to any sort of food we want, so we might not relate to “daily bread” like they did. But you know there are ongoing needs in your life, health, peace, security, that you simply cannot secure for yourself. You don’t have everything you need, and you can’t get it on your own. In this we come to our loving Father and simply ask, knowing that “your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”(Mat.6:8)
The second thing you have to admit is that you have some things to be forgiven for. For some of us that might lead to some head scratching—if I’ve been forgiven in Christ, why do I need to ask for forgiveness? Holding to a doctrine of salvation by faith alone (Eph. 2:8-9) we tend to think of forgiveness only as a point in time that produced an enduring state, as in, “When I prayed to follow Christ, in that moment I was totally forgiven and I remain forgiven for all eternity.” And this is true; see Rom. 8:30, Eph.2, Phil. 1:6, and others. So why would Jesus have us pray, “forgive us,” if we’ve been forgiven? Instead of asking what this prayer is supposed to get God to do, perhaps we could ask ourselves what it’s supposed to get us to do. In Christ, God has already forgiven you, independent of whether or not you’ve remembered to ask for forgiveness for every last thing. But when you come to prayer it would benefit you to remember today, this very day, you did things and thought things and perhaps said things that were in open rebellion to God, deserving of death, and Jesus took the penalty for each one of them. And tomorrow the same will be true. You could let this crush you in guilt, or you could use this opportunity to remember the wonder that God has forgiven you. You can take a moment of humility to pray, “have mercy on me, a sinner,” then worship that God has already bestowed his mercy on you.
And then, as you work through the Lord’s Prayer, remember that forgiveness is befitting the forgiven. “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” What a horrible misrepresentation of the gospel it is for any Christian to be unforgiving. How can a people freed of their eternal guilt in sin hold any error on this earth against a person in unforgiveness? This is not to sweep aside any grievous hurt or abuse that could have been inflicted upon you; this is simply to view that hurt through an eternal lens. Unforgiveness is especially unfitting when we come to God asking for forgiveness, like we do in the Lord’s Prayer. How can we ask God to do something for us that we are unwilling to do for others?
Wondering what to do under the new normal of COVID-19? Check out our post The Witness of Waiting: Being still in the midst of crisis
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read Matthew 6:9-13 for us?
• This week we’re looking at verses 11-12. What stands out to you from those verses?
• How can this part of the prayer shape our lives right now?
• How does calling God “Father” help us ask for “daily bread” and forgiveness?
• Let’s finish our time by reading The Lord’s Prayer out loud together (6:9-13).