9. Needy Praying

Short Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer: 9. Needy Praying

Mt 6:12a  And forgive us our debts,

The word ‘debts’ here raises questions. Old versions used to use ‘trespasses’ meaning the times we have strayed from the right path. The Living Bible uses the word ‘sins’. The JBP version puts it, “Forgive us what we owe you.”  The Message puts it simply and all-embracingly, “Keep us forgiven with you.” However, as I ponder on this, I quite like the use of ‘debts’, which comes from two angles.

The first angle is my debt to the courts of heaven: I owe justice, I need to pay for my sins. You may get caught on speeding camera; you owe the courts a fine. That is the debt you owe justice. But there’s another way. If you ever see a film or soap opera and someone does a big favour for someone else, you may have heard more than once, the rejoinder, “You owe me big time!” Yes, that is the truth, I owe God big time!

Whether we use the word ‘trespass’ or the even more blunt word, ‘sin’ we face the terrible truth that our lives fall seriously short of God’s design for humanity, hence, all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) God’s creation – including the original Adam and Eve – is glorious, it shows forth His splendor, but the lives we had before we came to Christ didn’t do that. Having turned away from Him, the glory went. And then He sent Jesus. I like the Message version’s way of putting those famous verses, Jn 3:16,17 This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son… Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it.” (read the whole section) Wow! Yes, I owe Him big time!

These few words, “and forgive us our debts” are so profound. They go to the heart of the human predicament (lost!). They also go to the heart of God’s love (salvation provided through the death of His Son). They also challenge us where we are today. Do we each one recognize our plight? Have we called on Him to save us? Do we live in the light of the wonder of the salvation we have received from Him? If not, these words will be meaningless. It may be we pray them meaningfully for the very first time, and if we do, we will find they are the doorway to the greatest adventure our time on this earth can bring. If we prayed them meaningfully many years ago, then when we utter them today, they come just as a reminder of what happened back then, but also of the ’state of play’ today – I am still reliant on the blood of Jesus shed on the Cross for me. I am what I am, I remain what I am, I will always continue to be what I am, because the debt has been paid to cover my debt, my trespasses, my sins, my guilt, my punishment. Hallelujah!

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