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Prayer, Plain and Simple

“Forgive us our trespasses…”

 

Newton was half right. To every action there is at least one equal and opposite reaction. I say, at least because usually one reaction grows into two and those into 200! Simple events have a way of compounding into what modern physicists call “chaos” – the mess in my garage for instance!

 

Consider the accidental impact caused by a chauffer’s one wrong turn in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. The mishap led to the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. That led to WWI, which led to the Russian Revolution, Stalin’s purges, WWII and Hitler’s Holocaust, the Cold War and the rise of Radical Islam. All from bad directions.

 

When a human being willingly defies or even accidentally ignores one of the principles that God has woven into his creation, catastrophic effects always follow. One white lie will ripple out into the world and grow into who knows what dire disaster! 

 

The ancients called this effect “Sin” and every human who commits even the slightest misstep is ultimately responsible not only for their own folly but for all the uncontrollable effects that grow from it… indeed for the whole mess of the whole world! 

 

The Bible says that God is just.  He sorts out every dark effect and pairs it with every incidental cause that made it. Because he is able to see every event for what it is and was, he is able to make these right judgments. God holds every human responsible for the damage our choices have wrought in his world. 

 

I’m thinking through my dire plight at the moment. My fingerprints are all over the crime scene. Any honest look inside will reveal the trouble: I’m fickle, foolish, and foul. And I’ll stand condemned…

 

Unless… I can appeal and ask for pardon. In this plank of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus invites us to do just that, to go to God and humbly ask that he drop the charges. “Forgive us our trespasses.” 

 

Here’s a pattern for prayer in this direction. 

– Ask God to reveal to you any sin in your life (Ps. 139:23)

– Ask God to cover this sin under his grace (Rom. 3:25)

– Thank God that he provides forgiveness through Jesus.

 

We might amplify this with, “God, I know I have trespassed your boundaries. My anger and jealousy have damaged your world even more than I could ever fathom.  I am the responsible one.  But I am bankrupt and could never offer just reparations to you.  I ask for your mercy.  I ask for forgiveness of these debts.”

 

Jesus indicates that when we ask directly and humbly, God will release our guilt. In fact, this is the essence of Christian faith: that God has transferred the debt we owe onto his own shoulders. 

 

Ask him now, if you’ve never made that exchange of life for life. He’ll do it. Ask him now.

 

 

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