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 picking up where we left off last week 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.

Last week we began to look at five things we are to do in order to pray this prayer rightly. We saw how we are to both acknowledge our sin and then to confess that sin specifically. This week, we turn to examine the final three things and pray them together.

III. Relate That Sin to the Cross

In the third place, we need in praying this prayer, "Forgive us our sins," to immediately relate the sin that we have confessed to the cross because that's where our relief comes from. Until we relate that sin to the cross, we haven't prayed this prayer as a Gospel petition.

So let's relate our sins to the cross right now in prayer. Let's pray.

O Lord, You have said in Your Word, and so we believe it, that if any person sins he or she has an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins. So we come to You in Him, we come to You in His name, we come to You believing the Gospel, we come to You clinging to the cross, praying that You would blot out our transgressions and that You would not enter into judgment with us, not because there is anything in us that deserves forgiving, but because He is our surety. He is our day's Man. He is the One through whom we have been reconciled to You. Let the handwriting which was against us, which was contrary to us, be blotted out and taken away, having been nailed to the cross of Christ. You have forgiven our trespasses in Jesus Christ. Be merciful to us in our own righteousness, in our sin, in our iniquity, because He is righteous, He is without sin, and because of His obedience. Remember our sins no more. Separate us from them as far as the east is from the west. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

IV. Ask God For Assurance

After we've related it to the cross, we need to ask God for assurance. Because as we struggle with sin we need help to really believe that grace has pardoned all my sins and that there has been a crimson tide of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that is availed for pardon and forgiveness for all my sins.

So let's go and ask the Lord for assurance in prayer. Let's pray.

O Lord, give us we pray the grace to receive the assurance of the atonement of Christ, to know that our sins are forgiven us. Speak peace to us. Make us to hear joy and gladness in Your voice. Let the blood of Christ, Your Son, cleanse us from all sin and make us to know that we have been cleansed from all sin. Purge our consciences from dead works to serve the Living God. Give us an assurance that we could not give ourselves, that comes only from You, which is only sealed by Your Spirit. Give us that assurance we pray and change our lives because of it, in Jesus' name. Amen.

V. Pray to Become Forgiving People

Finally, you can't pray this petition without linking our forgiveness to our being forgiving. The forgiven are forgiving and Jesus says it in such a striking way here, even more strikingly in the verse that Matthew records to say this - all those who have truly received God's grace of forgiveness will be in some measure more forgiving than they could be apart from the grace of Christ. Now none of us are as forgiving as we ought to be and if Jesus is saying that God's forgiveness of us is absolutely based on and contingent upon our being forgiving, bad news folks - we are all going to hell! But that's not what He's saying. What He is saying is all those who are truly forgiven will be, in some measure, forgiving. But we all want to grow in being forgiving. We want to be more forgiving than we are. We want to be able to forgive some people that we've really been struggling with forgiving.

And let me say, I'm not sure that the hardest people to forgive aren't fellow Christians that have wounded us and betrayed us and let us down. Well whether that's the case or not it can be very hard to forgive fellow Christians in some things and we want to become more forgiving, so we can't pray this prayer for our own forgiveness without also praying that we would become more forgiving.

But if we've prayed all those things, if we've acknowledged our sins, if we've confessed them specifically, if we've related it to the cross, and we've sought His assurance, we've still not prayed this petition the way that Jesus said it needed to be prayed. Don't pray this without praying that God's grace would also make you forgiving. Don't pray that God's grace would forgive you without becoming a forgiving person. So let's pray that God would move us from being forgiven to forgiving. Let's pray.

O Lord, all those who are forgiven by the Gospel become forgiving people, so as an evidence that You have forgiven our sins, we pray that You would give us the grace to forgive our enemies, to love those who hate us, to bless those who curse us, and to forgive friends who have wronged us and deeply wounded us. For we acknowledge that if we do not forgive others their trespasses, that if we do not live lives of forgiving love, then we are not showing a heart of mercy, the kind of heart of mercy and forgiveness that our Father shows to all those who trust in Him. So Lord, give us a hearty desire to forgive. If we have a quarrel against someone, even as Christ forgave us, enable us to forgive him. Lord, take away a desire to avenge ourselves. We pray that all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking would be put away from us, with all malice, and that we would be kind to one another, and tender hearted, forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven us. Lord, make us merciful as You our Father in heaven is merciful. You've promised that with the merciful You will show mercy, so make us the merciful to whom You have shown mercy. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

So Jesus teaches us to confess our sins, acknowledging them, we confess them specifically and Biblically, we relate it to the cross, we seek God's assurance, and then we pray to become forgiving people. If we were to become a forgiving people, there is no telling what the witness to our communities would be. If just the reconciliations that need to happen in our churches were to happen, there is no telling what a Gospel witness it would be to our cities.