When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them this model commonly known as the Lord's Prayer.

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Mathew 6:9-13 ESV

In it, we are to ask God to forgive our debts "as we also have forgiven our debtors". The parallel passage in Luke is similar, but specifically mentions forgiveness of sins:

And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” Luke 11:2-4 ESV

I was discussing this with a couple friends last night, and one of them mentioned that we do not really want God to forgive us in the same manner that we forgive others, as that would be a much weaker, incomplete forgiveness. In fact, we would much rather pray, "Father forgive us completely--wholly unlike how I am even able to forgive others."

I understand that we are encouraged to forgive others as completely as we can, but I also know my weakness in doing this.

So, again, why are we taught to ask God only to forgive us in the manner that we forgive others? It seems we would want a much greater level of forgiveness--the kind of forgiveness that only God can give.

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    "why are we taught to ask God only to forgive us in the manner that we forgive others?" That isn't my understanding... I've always thought it meant that we ask God to forgive, acknowledging our duty to forgive others. – curiousdannii Oct 16 '14 at 12:24
  • I think Matthew 7 applies here. "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." – fгedsbend Oct 16 '14 at 16:15
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    Read up about Yom Kippur and see if you want to rephrase your question. As it stands, it can only bring answers from a specific perspective that relies on complicated explanations. Obviously if that is what you want, fine. Remember though, Jesus was not a Christian and can only be understood from a Jewish perspective. You might want to pay special attention to the Kol Nidre. – gideon marx Oct 16 '14 at 19:26

Forgiving others is very, very important. Firstly, we emphasize the primary importance of love in the life of a believer:

The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 1 TImothy 1:5 NIV

Compare also the well known Great Commandment. The vital importance of forgiving others is made manifest when we realize that it is utterly impossible to truly love those we harbor unforgiveness towards (certainly from 'a pure heart' or 'with all our heart, mind, soul and strength' or 'as ourselves')- we deceive ourselves if we think so. The gospels are quite clear that the graceless attitude of unforgiveness will prevent us from receiving grace ourselves, in the succeeding verses to the Lord's prayer given in Matthew:

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. - Matthew 6:14-15 NIV

Compare also The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.

Viewed in human terms, the 'manner' of our forgiveness will not of course match the Lord's in view of His sublime perfection; however, God is fully committed to supply the required grace to enable us to forgive completely and sincerely if we trust him to do so:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. - 2 Peter 1:3 NIV

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In addition to the answer given by bruised reed the reason we have a hard time forgiving those who have wronged us lies in pride, (which God hates) for some reason we tend to consider our sins as lesser than those who sinned either against us, or for that matter against God. For some reason we cannot accept that there is no difference between a white lie and worshipping Satan.

God only has one classification of sin, and that being all are worthy of death.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We can only expect to receive as forgiveness for what we are willing to forgive in others, after all if a sin is not forgivable to all how can it be forgivable to any?

And since God can and will forgive them for their sins when they pray and repent, do you have the right to continue to hold them accountable?

While it is true that we do not have the ability to forgive sin Jesus does and if we have him in our hearts, we can ask him to give us the power to forgive since:

John 14:12 through 14 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

And Jesus did in fact forgive sins while on Earth in a human body.

Matthew 9:2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you."

Luke 7:47 and 48 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." 48 Then He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."

We have to remember that in his human form Jesus was tempted in every way we are and that includes the temptation to not forgive those who sin against us, and yet while dying on the cross said:

Luke 23:34 Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots.

If we expect Grace we should ask of God in Jesus name and he will give us the grace to forgive others.

Hope this helps.

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Because God ties our forgiveness with our own behavior: if we don’t forgive, then we won’t be forgiven. You quoted the Lord's Prayer, but neglected to read the next two verses:

Matthew 6:14-15

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


How much do we want to be forgiven? How much mercy do we want to receive from God? God will give to us the same measure we extend to others (Matthew 7:2).

James 2:13 sums it up well, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

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