Contemplating The Lord’s Prayer (Part III)

forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors

This petition has two parts.   The first part, forgive us our debts, is contingent on the second part, as we also forgiven our debtors.  We admit, in the first part, our sinfulness and plea for forgiveness.  But, before we plea forgiveness we are to forgive others and, then, we will be forgiven as we have forgiven.

Who among us does not desire forgiveness?   Sometimes it is hard, due to pride, to ask for forgiveness, and other times it is easy to half-heartily ask for forgiveness as we presumptively assume mercy and forgiveness, for we know God eagerly awaits the return of a sinner.   As we learn from the parable of unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:23-35), we are asked to extend the mercy we receive to others.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2840) teaches that the “outpouring of [God’s] mercy cannot penetrate our hearts as long as we have not forgiven those who have trespassed against us.”

The forgiveness we extend to others perfects and prepares our heart to receive and act on the mercy extended by Christ to us.  If we fail to extend forgiveness to others, our heart will be ill prepared to receive and act on the mercy extended by Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

lead us not into temptation

More accurate interpretations of “lead us not into temptation” would be “do not allow us to enter into temptation” or “do not let us yield to temptation.”  But, God does not tempt.  Thus, this is not a petition asking God not to tempt.  Rather, we pray for God to provide us with strength, discernment and endurance to resist temptation.

deliver us from evil

“Deliver us from evil” is a direct plea to be protected from the Evil One, Satan.  A prayer for deliverance for the Evil One is a prayer to be free from the corruption of sin and death, and to be free from all evils past, present and in the future.   Thus, we pray for the entire world and ourselves.

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