article we will discuss two more of the universal principles for prayer
taught by our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 6, namely, Petition and Confession.
Petition: Supply of Needs.
Matthew 6:11 "Give us this day our daily bread."
This request should be understood to encompass any
material and physical need. The fact that Jesus called it "daily
bread" is easier to understand in a culture where much employment
was on a daily basis, as some of the parables also reflect. As far as
Jesusí disciples were concerned, they had already been warned that
persecution would come, and in such times, this prayer would be needed.
Had Christís Kingdom been accepted and established on earth, then they
would have experienced abundance of supply, because all their needs would
have been met, as Amos 9:13 testifies: "Behold, the days come,
saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the
treader of grapes him that soweth seed, and the mountains shall drop sweet
wine, and all the hills shall melt." (see also Isaiah 65:18-25).
But until that day would occur, the prayer is legitimate for all
Confession: Sensibility of
Sin. Matthew 6:12 "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our
There are three aspects of forgiveness, the first
of which is Judicial Forgiveness. This includes all our sins, once
for all, forever: "And you, being dead in your sins and the
uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he made alive together with him, having
forgiven you all trespasses" (Colossians 2:13). This was
accomplished "through his blood, the forgiveness of sins"
Second, there is Paternal
Forgiveness, which is the subject of Matthew 6:12. Those praying here
are disciples, asking their Heavenly Father for forgiveness of "debts,"
from the Greek word opheilemata, which is interpreted by Jesus in
Matthew 6:14-15 as "trespasses." In the parallel passage,
Luke 11:4, Jesus uses the word hamartia, "sins."
The disciple is to ask forgiveness, so this presupposes confession of his
sins: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive
us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John
1:9). The words here in Matthew, "as we forgive," do not
involve proportion nor degree of forgiveness; it is rather the attitude
which results from confession of sins to God.
Third, there is Fraternal
Forgiveness, which comes within the family of God. It is forgiveness
of one another. This may be included within "our debtors"
or in 6:14-15, "forgive men their trespasses" yet, these debtors
or men, could just as easily be unbelievers. However, fraternal
forgiveness is the subject of Matthew 5:22-24 and certainly is evident in
Ephesians 4:32 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, even as God, for Christís sake, hath forgiven you."
In every dispensation this forgiving attitude is needed. It was
exemplified by Joseph before the Mosaic Law, in Genesis 50:15-21 when his
brothers were fearful of revenge on his part. They sent him Jacobís
dying message, "So shall ye say to Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee
now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee
evil" (verse 17).
Then too, under the dispensation of Law, David
experienced Paternal Forgiveness: "I acknowledged my sin unto
thee, and mine iniquity I have not hidden. I said, I will confess my
transgressions unto the LORD, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.
Selah" (Psalm 32:5). This is the classic example of Grace under
Law. Both David and Bath-Sheba should have been stoned to death according
to Deuteronomy 22:22; nevertheless God, in His lovingkindness, forgave
them (cf. Psalm 51:1-4). Thus, it is no surprise to find such forgiveness
under Grace (Ephesians 4:32), as well as here in Matthew 6:12 as part of
the presentation of the principles which the Messiah/King taught His
disciples, and which will be fulfilled, "in the fulness of time!"