Prayer is also trusting God for our need of forgiveness. Our second fundamental need is forgiveness. We need forgiveness. Jesus said, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors (Matt. 6:12, ESV). The word, “debts,” is from an Aramaic word, hoba, which means, “debt” or “sin.” (M. Black) Sin is debt. A sin against God is a debt owed to God. We cannot pay our debt to God. So we need God to forgive our debt.
Only God can forgive our debt of sin. To “forgive” (aphiemi) is to “cancel, pardon.” (Gingrich) Jesus tells a good example of forgiveness in the story of the Unforgiving Debtor in Matt. 18:23-27.
23 “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants.
24 When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents.
25 And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26 So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’
27 And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.”
The servant was forgiven. His debt was cancelled. He was pardoned, forgiven. Every time you sin, you owe a debt to God. That is why we must pray, “Father, forgive us our debts.” We need God to cancel the debt of our sin. We need God to pardon our debt of sin. We need to ask God to forgive us our debts, our sins.
But to ask forgiveness of our debts, we must forgive others their debts. Jesus said, “Forgive us as we also have forgiven our debtors.” The verb, “have forgiven” is aorist, indicating action in the past. Thus, as we have forgiven others, so we ask God to forgive us. In other words, in the kingdom of God, it is our privilege to ask God to forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven others their sins.
My question to you now is, if you have not forgiven others their sins, do you have a right to ask God to forgive you your sins? I don’t think you have that right. Only people who have forgiven otherS have the privilege to ask forgiveness for themselves.