We first pray ‘forgive us of our sins’ before we claim to be forgiving toward others.
Before we can practice genuine forgiveness toward another, we need to recognize the offensiveness in us.
My failure toward God has an affect on the community I am part of. In the same way, your sin affects those around you. Offenses spread like influenza.
If we pray the Lord’s Prayer on our own, we might say ‘forgive me of my sins’. That is appropriate. But Jesus is talking in this prayer about ‘our forgiveness’.
What do we need to be forgiven of? It is a question worthy of our reflection. If we don’t know how we have sinned, we need God’s help to understand how we have offended Him.
The Scriptures abound with many conversations between God and the people who have offended Him. There is a constant reference to reconciliation and restoration. It requires action on our part to acknowledge our sins and turn to God in repentance.
Jesus acted as God’s mediator to invite us to a peace conference. Jesus ultimately dealt with every sin that separates us from God and one another. Our apology and peacemaking starts with sorrow and confession. This is not just your personal story, but also a shared experience. The worship of a faith community includes prayers and collectively stating our confession of sin and request of forgiveness.
Non-churchgoers miss out on the ‘us’ of the Lord’s Prayer. There is community in mutual confession. It is powerful and effective.
American journalist Robert Quillen once said, “A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” [i]
Is that the happy marriage between Jesus and His Bride-- the union of two good forgivers? As a church are we a union of good forgivers?