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Prayer Part 3 of 4

 

This is the third of four weeks that the narrative lectionary is focused on the Lord's prayer as found in Luke 11:2-4.  So for this week we will focus on the following portion of the prayer:

"And forgive us our tesspasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Have you ever stopped to consider the conditional nature of this prayer?  We ask God to forgive us in the same way we forgive others.  You might think it would be a bigger request to ask God to forgive us, despite our hard hearts and failure to forgive others.  In reality, isn't this the request we usually make?

We might pray: "Oh Lord, forgive me for losing my temper with my co-worker.  I didn't mean to yell at them, I was just so frustrated.  Lord, you know my heart, you know I am trying."

Later that week we have a meeting with our supervisor and ask them "Can't you do something about Becky?  She is running around yelling at everyone.  Her tone is unbearable.  This is an unhealthy work environment.  It's her or me." 

For me, I know that road rage is where this comes out most.  I have a deep well of patience, but the roadway seems to take larger gulps from that well than any other activity.  I am used to living in a small town, so city driving is strange for me.  I was recently driving down Keystone.  I was in the middle lane expecting to go straight at the light around 38th.  When the lanes broke apart, as the turn lanes were added, the car in the left lane merged over into my lane, cutting me off and nearly causing an accident.  Then they honked at me, like I was the one that had just done something wrong.  I was livid, and my internal dialogue was focused on what an inconsiderate and stupid person this was that had just cut me off.  I judged their character on a single interaction.  

After some time though, God started to work on my heart and I wanted to understand.  I started watching this intersection and I noticed that since the lines were repainted people were having a lot of near misses there.   I did a little experiment and approached the intersection in the left lane.  I lost track of the problem intersection and went into autopilot.  After realizing that I was past the intersection, I noticed that I was in the right lane.  I had merged and didn't even remember merging.  I had done the same thing the other car had done.  I had to get out of my car and look closer at the intersection to see what was going on.  When they repainted the lines they left more space between the lines and because of the curve in the road, both lanes feel like they should merge into the same lane.  

I am often quick to ask for forgiveness, but I am much slower to remember that it's conditional on how forgiving I am.  Jesus' model of prayer is just as much a reminder to ask for forgiveness, as it is a reminder to forgive.  This is why this is a much greater request than to simply ask for forgiveness.  Not only am I asking God to forgive me, but I am asking God to change me, to make me more like Jesus, more forgiving.  

Lord, help us to have more patience and forgiveness with others.  Help us to experience the fullness of your grace, mercy, and forgiveness, by being a part of it.  Amen. 

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