The Lord’s Prayer – Forgive Us Our Debts

There are some memories from childhood that I can replay in my mind, from start to finish. They are memories that left a mark, an impression that ultimately shaped my character in some specific way.
I remember a sunny, warm day in Moscow, Idaho. I was five years old at the time. I don’t remember if I asked for one. What I do remember is that I stood at the grocery checkout with my sister and brother. As my mom interacted with the grocery clerk, I was standing in a strategic place where I could see a variety of gum, candy and chocolate. I decided that I wanted one of those chocolate bars.
Seeing that my mom was otherwise occupied, seeing that my little brother was contained in the grocery cart, and seeing that my sister wasn’t looking, I reached over and took the bar and put it in my pocket. No one noticed.
 We walked to our car. My mom loaded the groceries into the car and drove us home.
 As she was unloading and packing away the groceries in the kitchen, I walked onto our deck. I crawled under our blue, picnic table and hid under its shade. I unwrapped my contraband and took my first bite. Just then, my little sister peered under the table. She saw the chocolate bar and saw my full mouth, and then called for my mom.
My mom pulled me out from under the table and took the chocolate bar away from me. I was sent to my room. I’m not sure how long I was in there. That’s where my memory fades. However, when my dad entered the room and told me that I had to accompany him back to the store to confess my crime, I was mortified, shamed, and afraid.
My dad gave me the money to pay for the half-eaten candy bar. He took me by the hand and led me to a grocery clerk. It was a lady. I’m not sure if it was the same clerk, or not. I hadn’t focused upon her when I was performing my crime. Nonetheless, I said what I had done and confessed. I asked for forgiveness. I repaid the debt; with my dad’s money. And then, my dad led me hand in hand back to our car and drove me home.
I never stole a candy bar again.
The next index sentence of the Lord’s Prayer is
Forgive us our debts
When I look upon that event in my life I see how my father led me through a powerful lesson. First, I was asked to repay a debt that I could not. I didn’t have any money. My dad offered the coins needed for the transgression. Second, I was asked to go immediately and make amends. My parents didn’t want time to pass on this offense. They wanted me to make atonement while the sting of shame was still strong. Third, I was asked to go and request forgiveness from those that I had harmed. In all, my dad led me by the hand, stood with me while I admitted my sin, paid my debt, hugged me, and led me home.
I imagine the store clerk may have thought it was a cute, harmless exercise for me. However, in my five-year old mind, I was devastated! Today, though, I see my parents’ wisdom and love in helping me deal with this offense straightaway. Instead of letting guilt, shame, or something else grow inside my heart, they helped me receive the gift of loving forgiveness. The other powerful gift I received was that instead of sending me in alone to deal with it, my dad accompanied me. He walked every step of the way in my redemptive journey; by my side.
When we come to this next sentence in the Lord’s Prayer
Forgive us our debts
I see Christ walking a similar journey with each of us. When we commit a transgression, like deceit, like gossip, like envy, like bitterness of spirit, like fear of man or situation, like worry, or any other self-centered behavior, we have an opportunity like I was given. Each day, we can ask that our heavenly Father forgive our debts. We can go before Him and ask Him to free us from the debt we owe for our sin. Jesus, like my dad did that day in Moscow, Idaho, paid the debt long ago. Jesus goes with us before the Father. The Holy Spirit prompts us and guides us. We do not go alone. And once we do confess, we are embraced in loving compassion, in loving grace, and in loving security. We experience a blessed washing of sanctification through our Savior and Lord.
If you remember, a major element found in the prayers of the Old Testament was confession. The Old Testament prophets, priests, kings acknowledged both their personal transgressions and the transgressions of their nation. David shared this prayer in Psalm 32…
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.


Blessed is the one
whose sin the LORD does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.


You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:1-7 NIV

What incredible words of confession and honor! May we pray with such heartfelt devotion and reverence as we confess our sins before our Heavenly Father. We do not do it alone. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, our High Priest, goes with us, prays with us, intercedes for us, and has already paid the price for us. May we feel the embrace of His love and His grace as we kneel before the Mercy Seat.
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

Forgive us our debts

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