And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Mt 6: 12)

Are we making a “deal” with God here, as with One unwilling to grant us what we want, without some sacrifice from our side? No. He is more than willing to “forgive” us already, before we even ask for forgiveness. He’s not “mad” at us, because God never changes, and His undying love for us never changes. He doesn’t transform from being a “good God” into being a “mad God,” because of our behaviour. He’s God, after all, and does not change in His attitude toward us, nor do our prayers somehow change Him.

What actually changes, when I pray in the way our Lord Jesus Christ taught us to pray, in the Our Father, is me. I learn, in saying these God-given words, to accept forgiveness of my “debtors,” including, importantly, myself. I know I’ve reflected on this verse before, not so long ago, but here’s another thought, which struck me today: In order truly to accept ”forgiveness” from God, I need to forgive others, …including myself. Because as it happens, I may be blocking or resisting God’s grace of forgiveness, also of me, because I’m projecting onto Him my own incapacity to forgive human shortcomings, particularly my own.

When I am that way, I find myself lacking faith. I am “not believing” that God can possibly forgive me, because I just can’t do that myself. And this is the thing that the Lord is teaching me, when He teaches me to pray, by saying the Our Father: Forgive others first, including yourself, He is saying to me, so that you can also accept My forgiveness, which has been here for you all along. Let it go, He is saying, so you can believe that I can. You need faith, that’s all, to make this beginning. And embrace My love for you, He’s saying, instead of blocking it out in your self-loathing and resulting self-isolation. Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to pray and also to believe in You, as You do in me.

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