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Forgive Us (Lord's Prayer)
Tony R. Nester
The place where a lot of people stumble in saying The Lord's Prayer is the part about forgiveness. "Forgive us our ...." - are we supposed to say "debts" or "trespasses" or "sins"?
For years Methodists have said "trespasses" while other Christians said "debts."
"Debts" is used in the King James Version of the Bible which was produced in 1611. But there was an earlier translation of the New Testament made in 1525 by William Tyndale who used the word "trespasses." The Church of England adopted Tyndale's translation and put in its prayer book. John Wesley, the founding father of Methodism loved that prayer book and passed it on to the people called Methodist. (1).
Today more and more churches are choosing to use "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us."
If you turn to number 894 in our Hymnal you'll find three translations of The Lord's Prayer. More and more Christians are using the Ecumenical translation as we do here at Sheldon: we say "sins." But the Hymnal includes the older Methodist "trespasses" and the Evangelical United Brethren "debts."
Behind all of these words is the concept that when we wrong God or other people violate them. We've acted as though they don't matter, as if our desires give us the right to use others for our own ends. We've crossed a line we ought not to have crossed. We've ignored boundaries and have trespassed against their rights. And now we owe them something to make up for our sin. We are debtors to them.
In The Lord's Prayer Jesus teaches us that we are all sinners before God. Everyone is to pray and ask for forgiveness. Just as we are to pray for daily bread, so we are to pray daily for forgiveness. In the same way that everybody needs to eat in order to stay alive physically, everyone needs the grace of God's forgiving love in order to stay alive spiritually. Everyone, everyday, stands in need of God's forgiveness. Without it, ...
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