As We Forgive Our Debtors

The Our Father makes me uncomfortable. Praying shouldn't be easy.

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts,

As we forgive our debtors.

And do not lead us into temptation,

But deliver us from the evil one.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

-Matthew 6:9-14

“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Here, the “as” (ὡς) can also be translated as “just as” or “like” or “even as”. So we should consider carefully how we forgive. When we pray The Our Father, we don’t only ask that God forgive us. We ask that God forgive us in the way we have forgiven others. For those of us who pray the Our Father, the way we forgive in our personal lives is also a request to God for forgiveness in that particular way. Our activity beseeches God in a prayer, and a very particular prayer. Our forgiveness takes on, in an existential form, the “as” in those lines.

The removing of debts is an important part of this passage.

ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖςἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν” can be translated as, “like we remove the debts of others.” “Remove” here, “ἀφήκαμεν”, can also be translated as “abandon” or “bid depart” or “disregard.” The removal of debts also points us to the frequent parables of Jesus, in which the debtors have their debts simply wiped away. They are removed, and the debtors are made free. But the Master of these parables punishes and rebukes those whose debts He has removed but who will not remove the debts of others.

The Our Father makes me uncomfortable. Praying shouldn’t be easy.

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