Unmerited Forgiveness in the Lord's Prayer
Editor Note: What follows is an excerpt from my family devotions on the Lord's Prayer through GraceForSinners
In our home, we stress the active role we as parents take in reconciliation. Immediately after disciplining Judah or Kenzie, I reconcile them to those they hurt. This step exemplifies the way God reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ. Even when the children could not speak I would echo the words of requesting forgiveness and ensure the pronouncement (“I forgive you”) was made. I laugh now watching my children eagerly (except when they are really mad) request and grant forgiveness to one another. They are eager for the relationship to continue and fun to ensue. They understand at some primal level the importance of reconciliation. And they understand the general steps of asking for undeserved forgiveness. Ultimately, the Christian experience with God is the same. God speaks for us while we cannot. We find this forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
Christ’s death initiates forgiveness and His death while we were rebelling against Him (Rom. 5:6-8). We wage war against God until He justifies us (Eph. 2:1-4). He “first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19). This means that God reconciles and forgives us before we even know to request it. We are the little children without the slightest understanding of what sin is. We are barely aware of who we have sinned against. God choose to reconcile us while we were in that state. Jesus’ petition for forgiveness reminds us of that. We grow in our understanding of forgiveness when we pray it. We learn daily just how unmerited our forgiveness was. We realize just how ignorant we were of God’s active work to reconcile with us.
The truth of the Scripture is that all forgiveness is unearned. We cannot deserve it by any later good deeds since God already deserved those (Lk. 17:10). We pray for this gracious forgiveness then because it has been promised to us (1 Jn. 1:9). We pray for it because it has already been accomplished.