7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.9 Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.[a]
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,[b]
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.[d]
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
As Christ teaches the well-known Lord’s Prayer he includes many petitions to God, but one is delivered with more detail than the others; the forgiveness of our sins and our forgiveness of others. Jesus spends more time on this idea in particular because nursing bitterness and failing to forgive is incompatible with the mercy and forgiveness we have been shown by the Father.
Consider this: do we even understand what we are asking for when we ask God to forgive us for our sins? Part of asking for forgiveness is recognizing that none are exempt from God’s commandments (Deuteronomy 11), that all of us have broken them (Romans 3:23), that and that God’s forgiveness is sufficient to cleanse every commandment-breaker upon their belief and repentance (1 John 1:9).
Those who consistently remember these truths can more easily understand that they have equal footing with other humans before God and thus, can more readily forgive others. To refuse to forgive indicates that we don’t actually comprehend the depths of our own sin, and that we perhaps don’t understand the Gospel at all.
When you pray, are you praying with sincerity and a full understanding of your shortcomings before God? Or are your own appeals to God for mercy “empty phrases” that mean nothing because you don’t fully grasp that all are needy and require forgiveness? Are you slower to forgive than God Himself?
Are you withholding forgiveness from someone?