Friday, October 27, 2017

2017-10-27 [Month of Mission 2017] A Kingdom Prayer -- Forgive us as we forgive

A Kingdom Prayer -- Forgive us as we forgive

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.      (Matthew6:9-13)

We often refer to verses 9-13 as the Lord's Prayer but it could be more accurate to title it "The Disciples' Prayer". Jesus does not give us this prayer for memory or repetition. It is not intended to serve as a substitution but as a pattern as to how we should pray. The purpose of prayer is to glorify God's name, and to ask for help to accomplish God's will on earth. Thus this prayer begins with God's interest, not ours: God's name, God's kingdom, and God's will. Prayer brings us into the mind, heart and will of God. It helps us to see things the way God sees it rather than the way we often want or desire it to be. A Kingdom prayer is therefore a prayer established and set in God's will.

It may be a dangerous thing to pray and act in God's will. 500 years ago Martin Luther dared to pray and respond to God's calling to revive and reform the Church. It led to the formulation of his 95 Theses which challenged the Roman Church, leading to his excommunication and the start of the Protestant movement, even though he had no intention of breaking away from the church. For the reformers the unity of the church was always central and essential. It still is! To be reformed is to be ecumenical.

One of the serious issues Luther raised with the church of his day related to the Sale of Indulgences which advocated that people could 'buy' their salvation and 'earn' forgiveness. Luther was clear that salvation is in Christ alone. We are saved by grace, through faith. In verse 12 we pray "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors". This is not intended to suggest that believers earn God's forgiveness by forgiving others; this would be contrary to God's free grace and mercy. Put simply, it means that we are able to forgive others because we know what it means to be forgiven by God. If we have truly experienced God's forgiveness, then we will have a readiness to forgive others.

In the midst of brokenness, pain, suffering, sin and struggle, the world is in dire need of a message of love and forgiveness. It is not in earning but in yearning for the love and forgiveness of Christ that we receive hope, peace, joy and the gift of (eternal) life. Herein is our mission responsibility of proclaiming Christ to the world. Kingdom people hear, receive, live and share the kingdom message as we pray "Your Kingdom come". Are you?

Kingdom people know what it means to forgive because we have been forgiven. Are you a kingdom person?
Jerry Pillay is teaching Church History at the University of Pretoria. Only by grace he is blessed to be married to Sandra and through faith and good works have raised 3 adorable children: Jessie, Janice and Aaron.

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