In our last few articles we've stopped and parked on the Lord's Prayer and the five petitions that Luke gives in his rendition of Jesus' prayer, the prayer that He taught the disciples to pray, in Luke 11:1-4. And we're on a very important petition today. It's the petition for the Lord to forgive us as we forgive those who have sinned against us. There's no petition that's more clearly related to the Gospel than that petition. In fact, I suggest to you that we could almost call it "The Gospel Petition" because you can't talk about forgiveness without talking about the Gospel, and you can't pray for forgiveness without understanding the Gospel, and you can't do what the Gospel intends in you if you don't understand what the Gospel is to produce by way of your becoming a forgiving person. And so this petition could very well be called "The Gospel Petition."

Jesus teaches us to acknowledge our continuing sin as a regular part of our practice of prayer. In answer to the question, "Lord, teach us to pray," in one of the five or six central things that Jesus tells us to pray when we pray, He tells us to confess our sins. He tells us to ask for forgiveness. In other words, according to Jesus, confessing our sin is a standing part of believing prayer.

We learn several things from His petition.

First of all we learn that the prayer of confession is a genuinely Christian prayer. It's not just the prayer that you pray at the beginning of the Christian life and then you're done with that and you move on to something else. It's a prayer that's continuously prayed for the whole of the Christian life because the whole of the Christian life is repentance.

But notice how He also connects it to their becoming forgiving people. Look at what He says. He says, "Forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us." In other words, He says the forgiven become forgiving people and we're never ever to forget that when we pray for our own forgiveness.

When we pray that the Lord would forgive us our sins, we cannot simply stop there. As urgently as we recognize the need for our own forgiveness of sin we cannot stop there because Jesus connects to our own prayer for forgiveness a prayer that we would be forgiving. That is, that as God shows His grace to us, we become gracious. As God shows His mercy to us, we become merciful. As God forgives us, we become forgiving.

And I want to suggest to you today that to pray it rightly we need to be able to do five things and then I want to just pray these things with you for a moment by way of example. It's very simple. This week we will look at the first two and then next week we'll look at the final three.

First of all, we have to acknowledge our sin. Now that can be an extraordinarily hard thing to do because sometimes our sin pains us so deeply we don't want to think about it. And many Christians have misunderstand the Gospel at this point and will say, "Look, if we've already been forgiven by Jesus Christ why should Christians continue to dwell on sin and ask for forgiveness of sin?" Well, there're lots of answers to that question. One really basic answer is, "Well, Jesus said for us to."

Another answer is simply this - As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we continue to sin. We continue to struggle with sin. In order to be realistic about ourselves, unless we want to live in denial, we have to acknowledge that we're sinners. We do that in our prayers.

Let's do so together.

Lord, as duly as we pray every day for our daily bread, we need to pray for the forgiveness of sins. We need to do this because we sin. We've all sinned and come short of the glory of God and even those of us who trust in Jesus Christ and have had our sins forgiven, we continue to sin. We hate it. We don't do what we want to do and we do what we don't want to do, and we're miserable when we're doing it and the burden of the guilt bothers our conscience in the depths of our soul but we still do it. In many things we offend You every day and we don't even know how many times we offend You. And Lord if You would sit down and take a count and mark down our iniquities none of us would stand. So we acknowledge that, but we also acknowledge that there is forgiveness with You so that You may be feared. So God, be merciful to us, sinners. In Jesus' name. Amen.

So, the very first thing we do is we acknowledge our sin, but secondly we confess that sin specifically.

When we go before the Lord in confession, the full confession of sin He's looking for is not, "I'm sorry." We confess our specific sins specifically. If we don't, guess what? We'll think that people out there are a lot worse than we are. We'll be self-righteous, we'll be unforgiving, and we won't reckon with what we really are. And so we need to confess our specific sins specifically.

Now obviously I can't confess your sin specifically so you confess your sin specifically along with me and I'll try and guide you in the language of Scripture to help you to do that. Let's pray.

Lord, we come to You now not to just acknowledge that we are sinners generically, but we are sinners specifically. We have wasted Your goods. We've buried the talents that You've entrusted to us. We haven't rendered You a benefit in accordance with all the things that You have done for us. We're indebted to You, literally. Furthermore, we're under sin. We've done things that are worthy of death. We've done things that deserve the wrath of God on the children of disobedience. Our debt is a great debt and we have nothing to pay it with. We don't even have good grounds to say to You, "Please be patient" with You and we'll pay it to You later. Our adversary could very justly deliver us to You as Judge and we could very justly be cast into prison. We've sinned in thought and word and deed. We've done things that we shouldn't do and we haven't done things that we ought to have done. We have loved other things and other people more than we've loved You. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We've been selfish. We've put ourselves first and others second and frankly we've worship ourselves. We've fallen prey to the lusts of the flesh. We've fallen prey to the lust of the eyes. The grass is greener on the other side. We've fallen prey to the pride of life. We're arrogant. We've lifted up "whys" to You, not "whys" that recognize that You're sovereign, but the "whys" of unbelief. We've become bitter because we think You've given us a hard deal. You know our sins better than we know them. Show them to us. We confess them. And we confess that in and of ourselves there is no hope, but we thank You that there is an Advocate with the Father. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Next week we will finish this discussion by looking at the final three things we are to do in these prayers.