“Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins; for we ourselves also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And bring us not into temptation.” Luke 11:3-4
“That prayer is not for good Christians, says someone, it is for the Jews. We don’t have to ask God to forgive us our trespasses. He has forgiven us already through the blood of Christ. ‘We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins’; we don’t have to ask God for forgiveness. So, if I drive my car carelessly and can’t brake and run into your car, I don’t have to ask you for forgiveness? God has already forgiven me so I don’t have to ask you for forgiveness? That would be plain nonsense. We have to learn to distinguish between the forgiveness that God has given us through Christ—‘ their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more’ (Heb 8: 12) (his forgiveness at the legal level)— and forgiveness at the level of God’s family and day to day life in the kingdom of God. That is a different thing, for which I need to ask the Lord’s forgiveness. If I carry on sinning, and don’t confess it and seek his forgiveness, Scripture plainly tells me that the Lord will chastise me. ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins’ (1 John 1: 9). If we judge and discern ourselves and, where we have failed, seek the Lord’s forgiveness, he will not chastise us. But, like the good Father and Lord he is, if we don’t confess our sins and if we don’t repent and seek his forgiveness he will chastise us until we come to a better frame of mind.
If I need to constantly show my dependence on God for my daily bread, I need with equal frequency to ask God’s forgiveness. Can we ever bow before God and say, ‘Today Lord, I don’t need forgiveness for I have done everything one hundred percent well?’ There won’t be a day like that until we get home to glory. The sensitivity that it develops in my spirit will make me aware that my brother and sister also need forgiveness, and if I expect the Lord to forgive me I must forgive them. That’s life in the family of God. If I need forgiveness for what I have done wrong in the past, I need God’s help not to do wrong again in the future: ‘Lead us not into temptation’. That shows a proper attitude. There are times when God by his Spirit and in his wisdom does lead us into situations where we shall be tempted (as he did with his own blessed Son). What should my attitude be to that? Not that of Peter. When our Lord warned him that temptation was coming and he was liable to fail Peter with his foolhardy courage said, It will be all right, Lord. I would never break down. He would have been better to pray, O Lord, don’t let me come into such a situation. I am not strong enough to face life’s great tests by myself and I could become unstuck. I need God’s protection, so lead me not into temptation, if it is possible in your will to keep me from the severe tests.”
David W. Gooding, Three Studies on Prayer. (Belfast: Myrtlefield House, 2016), Kindle Loc. 218-237.