“Forgive us our trespasses” – A driver placed a note under the windshield wiper of his illegally parked car which read: “I’ve circled the block for 20 minutes. I’m late for an appointment, and if I don’t park here I’ll lose my job. “Forgive us our trespasses.” When he came back he found a parking ticket and a note from a policeman: “I’ve circled the block for 20 years, and if I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. “Lead us not into temptation.”
A Sunday School teacher asked her class, “What must you first do before you can be forgiven?” A child answered, “Sin.”
We have an obligation to extend forgiveness to others. People who are unforgiving cannot understand or accept the forgiveness God offers. Anyone who is not willing to forgive another has not experienced God’s forgiveness. When we refuse to forgive others, we are asking God not to forgive us.
There are many people who refuse to forgive; they harbor resentments and hold grudges. People often claim, “I forgive – but I’ll never forget!” When I hear this, I do something unexpected – I urge that person not to forget. I say, “I want you to remember! Every time you remember the offense and feel the hurt, I want you to remember your forgiveness.” Amnesia isn’t the goal!
“Lead Us Not into temptation” …The word “temptation” in the Greek is a neutral word–it can mean, based on the context, either temptations, testing’s or trials. A trial is adversity, suffering, or affliction. It’s been said, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Trials build character; they can transform common Christians into exceptional saints. Trials are part of God’s plan for us. They aren’t especially welcome, but they can – and do – increase our faith. This petition forces us to our knees. It makes us admit how weak and vulnerable we really are without God’s help. Temptation carries a two-fold meaning in most of Scripture (testing or trial.)
“But deliver us from evil” – We battle an enemy who knows our weak points. He knows that often it is when we think we are invincible that we are the biggest targets. He delights in taking us down at the very points we think we are the strongest. “When I am weak, then I am strong,” was the cry of Paul. That was the heart of man who knew he needed protection as well as direction through the maze of temptation.
Temptation is inevitable. Sin is not. Weakness is certain. Failure is not. But it will be for one who does not seek God’s direction and protection from temptation and Satan.
It is worth noting again that each of these petitions is in the first-person plural. Give us. Forgive us. Deliver us. We are not in this alone. We are together like it or not. That’s good. We not only need to learn to pray. We need to learn to pray for one another. So, remember that when you pray the Lord’s Prayer it is not about you and it’s not about I/me/or my, it’s about “us.” We are all in this together.