Matthew 6:12, “Forgive us our sins.”
The Lord’s Prayer here in Matthew chapter 6 comes as a direct result of Jesus disciples asking for help. They asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” In response to their request, he taught them how to pray within a group setting with the dominant pronouns being “us” and “our”. These pronouns are plural in nature and work well within this group context. If we look at this phrase for just the words that are on the page, “Forgive us our sins”, it would appear at first glance that we are being encouraged to pray for groups of people and for the sins they have committed and interceding for God to forgive these sins.
For sure there are times within the whole of scripture that we are encouraged to come before God and pray for an entire group of people to ask God to forgive the collective sins of a group of people. Moses is a great example of this type of intercessor prayer warrior. On multiple occasions, the nation of Israel had sinned grossly in their behavior towards God. Each time the nation sinned, Moses came as an intercessor on behalf of the nation and prayed before God on behalf of all the people.
Listen as Moses does his work in Exodus 32:31-32, “Then Moses returned to the Lord, and said, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin.”
Moses is asking God to forgive the specific sins of the entire nation of Israel. Each time Moses intercedes for the people, God hears the request, relents from his anger and the nation is spared the judgement they so rightfully deserved. Each time you read of this happening in the book of Exodus, you hear Moses coming before God and saying the exact words of The Lords’ Prayer, “Forgive us our sins”.
A secondary example of someone who interceded before God in prayer in asking for the forgiveness of sins committed by the nation of Israel as a whole is Daniel. Listen to Daniel pray in Daniel 9:3-5. Here you have one of the most beautiful intercessory prayers in all of scripture.
“So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws.”
You can just hear the earnestness and great emotion with which Daniel is coming humbly before God and praying on behalf of his people who are in exile in Babylon. They have lived in Babylon going on seventy years and all because they sinned greatly as a people and nation for hundreds of years when they lived collectively in the land of Israel. It is a model example of what a prayer of confession looks and feels like when done on behalf of a nation and group of people.
Yet notice what Daniel goes on to say towards the end of the chapter in verses eighteen and nineteen. “We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
And there you have Daniel saying nearly the exact words of Jesus in The Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our sins.” What a truly remarkable man Daniel was in praying for the people he lived among and loved so dearly.
Do you love the people that live all around you enough to interceded in prayer before God as did Daniel and Moses? Do you care enough for them that you are active in praying for them as a whole in asking God to forgive them of their sins? Does the heart cry of your soul pray earnestly that God will not bring about the judgement our sins committed collectively as our nation deserves?
Take some time today to pause from praying for God to forgive your own sins and instead take on a whole new role. Take on the role of a prayer intercessor for your neighborhood and nation. Plead with God to forgive the sins of your neighborhoods, your state and your nation. If we come before God and ask, and we know that he listens and considers, then great healing and change can occur.
Listen to the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Time to get on our knees and interceded for our nation. The prayer is simple, “Forgive us our sins.”
D. Mike Collins
Habakkuk 2:4 “The Just shall live by faith.”