I wanted to start off tonight, by saying that I am humbled by the opportunity to speak into your lives. It is the Holy Spirit who spurred me on to do this. And by the grace of God, I have been actively pursuing to be like Christ more and more everyday. Don't ever be discouraged or frustrated in your pursuit of being like Christ. Nothing you do is more important than that journey.
Matthew 6:9-13 (NIV)
"This, then, is how you should pray: " `Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,  your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'
The Lord's prayer. We all know it. We all can recite it. It's Jesus' example to show us how we should pray. If you look closely at it, you will notice certain things that stand out. You'll notice the example of adoration towards God. Bringing praise to God for His name alone. Then you will notice the submission of will. He says "your kingdom come, your will be done." He realizes that God's plan is greater than ours. Then He proceeds with asking for provisions. I personally like the fact He doesn't ask His Father to give Him security for the future, but He only asks for DAILY bread. Then comes the request for forgiveness, for the forgiveness of their own sins as they forgive others. And finally, it concludes with the desire of being free from temptation, for purity of life, and deliverance from the snares of the devil.
The reason I bring this up, is because I was doing a study about the life of Christ and I was reading this passage like I had done many times before. But after reading the Lord's Prayer, I was surprised to see what the next couple of verses said. You see, we all know what is in the prayer. We can quote that. What I found very interesting, is what He immediately talks about in the following verses.
Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
In the prayer, He had talked about praising God, being submissive to Him, asking for our needs, for forgiving us and how we forgive others, and finally asking for victory over sin. And yet the first thing Jesus wants to hit on, with His disciples and the crowd, is the importance of forgiving others. I found that remarkable, the fact that Jesus immediately hit on the importance of the necessity of forgiving others. You see it's much easier to praise God, to ask for what you need, to want forgiveness and freedom from sin, then it is to forgive others who have wronged us.
Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, displays His amazing grace by faithfully forgiving us. 1 John 1:9 (NIV) "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." But we who are sinful, who screw up all the time, we struggle to forgive someone who is just like we are. As you can read from Matthew 6:14-15, the promise Jesus is explaining is a powerful one.
So think of your own life. Are you harboring resentment or not willing to forgive someone? Maybe a father or mother, maybe a friend or teammate, or even a wife or child, are there instances where forgiveness is needed? I pray that you will forgive others, not because you want to be forgiven by your heavenly Father, but so that you might live like your Savior. Forgiving others because you yourself have been forgiven.
Mark 11:24-25 (NIV)
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.  And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. "
Luke 17:3-4 (NIV)
So watch yourselves.
"If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.  If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, `I repent,' forgive him."
May your eyes always be fixed on your Savior, may your hands be outstretched to those around you, and may your minds be immersed in the word of God.