“Forgive us our trespasses …”
A prayer for forgiveness is a strange thing for me. I’m usually delighted when it’s over but I hate starting the request. It’s the same for me with going to the dentist. I love the feeling of “clean” my mouth has when I leave, but I despite, with all intensity, that toothpaste they use to make that happen.
I think I hate asking for forgiveness because I don’t like admitting that I screwed up–yet again–in the very area that needed forgiving not too long ago (or, in some cases, earlier in the day). I like the feeling of confessing my resentment toward someone, but I hate having to beg God for more absolution when, sometime later, I catch those hateful thoughts creeping back into my brain, unchecked and out of control.
It’s an issue of pride. I don’t like admitting that I’m not as holy as I’d like to think I am. Sometimes, though, it’s a matter of how I see God.
It’s always me who needs to be convinced to ask for forgiveness. I’m the one who always seems to need some Spirit-led assurance that I haven’t drank too much from the ocean of grace. God has enough for all His children and for all His enemies–and when He’s done dispensing grace, He has yet more to give.
Jesus’ example on how to pray is a good reminder to me that God has been ready to forgive long before I ever fell into sin. Two thousand years ago, Jesus told his followers that if they were going to pray, then their requests were always going to be bound with their need for reconciliation with the Almighty.
There is no asterik next to “Forgive us our trespasses” that clarifies that this part of the prayer is only for those children of God who can’t get their crap together; if you’re one of the good kids, then feel free to skip down to the “lead us not into temptation” part. No. It doesn’t work like that. Jesus told us that God is a father who listens to the requests of His children. If human fathers, being evil, know how to provide for their kids, Jesus told us, then is it so hard to believe that your Father in heaven would take care of you in your time of need? Would He really withhold His hand when you came to Him in need?
No. God isn’t like that, Jesus taught.
The Divine isn’t the one who needs to be convinced when you ask Him for forgiveness.
Why would He need convincing? He’s the one who taught you how to ask.
So go through your day with this bit of knowledge in your mind: don’t be discouraged when you have to ask for God’s forgiveness. Jesus is the one who taught you how to ask. The very act of asking God for pardon is an act that pleases Him!
You’re not a screw up when you ask. Your request was taught to you by Jesus himself.
And when you ask for forgiveness, you’re both admitting that you’ve been out of line even as you step back into it.