In 2012 a book was published with the title: Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. It became a New York Times Bestseller, and was regarded by many as a “pretty cool” book on prayer; how a lot of our prayers can be summarized as “wow”, look at all the “neat” things around us; “thanks”, obviously being grateful for what we have; and “help” for when we need it. Pretty neat stuff, many thought. But Tim Keller, whose commitment with his wife to prayer I mentioned last week, pointed out: “It is striking, though, that the book leaves out one of the most crucial categories of prayer, namely confession and repentance.” (Timothy Keller, Prayer, p. 60-61) It’s not too surprising to me, though, that a book that would be popular with the world would leave out confession and repentance. Those things just aren’t “popular.”
The truth is, a lot of us would rather “leave out” confession and repentance, because that is certainly not the most “fun” part of prayer, but as we all know, there are a lot of things in life that may not be “fun” but they are necessary. Jesus knew that we NEEDED this category of prayer, and so He included it as one of the 6 petitions of His Model Prayer.
We have seen over the last weeks that Jesus gave us this Model Prayer not as a “script” to be recited, but as a model outline to follow. He gave us at least 6 categories in this prayer of things that God wants us to talk with Him about when we pray — especially those longer prayers that we should pray to begin our day. So this morning we come to the 5th Request, which deals with forgiveness: “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”
There are two parts to this 5th request, both of which deal with forgiveness: the first deals with the forgiveness we RECEIVE from God, and the second, with the forgiveness which we are to GIVE to others: Both of these are important, and necessary, and BOTH of these phrases should play an important role in our prayer time every day.Continue reading