Every Monday through Lent, we’re looking at an aspect of the Lord’s Prayer. Today, let’s take a look at “Forgive Us…”

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come 
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses 
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil. 

There is just no getting around the fact that I make mistakes. And those mistakes of mine often the people around me. The guilt I have experienced around my mistakes and the injury I’ve caused others can create a serious dead end for me, emotionally and spiritually.

And then,.. right here in this prayer, I’m given a place for my mistakes and my guilt. In other words, God is not at all surprised at my slip-ups or selfishness. They ought not keep me from meeting Him and being met by Him.

Something in my soul naturally says “But these dark corners in me… I can’t just open  myself up or I’ll have to look at them and others will see them and…” But in this prayer, Jesus invites me to ask for and inevitably receive forgiveness for my mistakes as well as the hurts I’ve caused others. And as He does so, He challenges me to see that those around me who may have caused me injury are in the exact same place I am; they need forgiveness.

When we pray today, let’s be reminded that Jesus died for your sins – that nothing you can do can separate you from the love of God. Also be reminded that Jesus died for the sins of those who have wronged you or hurt you.

Let’s pray the Lord’s Prayer…

FIRST TIME – Just read it or recite it naturally and at whatever pace you naturally move at. Then give yourself a moment and take a few breaths before doing it again.

SECOND TIME – More slowly this time, read or recite the prayer and pay attention to the images, thoughts and feelings that might pop up as you do. Is there a line in the prayer that catches you? Is there a past mistake or broken relationship that comes to mind? Don’t think about why you’re seeing, thinking or feeling these things… just pay attention.

Then, after that second pass through. Take a longer pause and focus on that image or thought (or name or face) or the line from the prayer that jumped out at you. Ask the Spirit of God to speak to you about what that means for you.

Then, take another long breath and ready yourself for your third pass.

THIRD TIME – Keeping the thought or image in mind that jumped out at you, read or recite the prayer one last time, even more slowly and then give yourself the gift of silence for a few breaths.

Before you leave this time, ask the Spirit of God to continue speaking to you about whatever image or thought may have jumped out at you. Perhaps ask “Why is that in my mind?” or “Is there a course of action I am supposed to take?

You may want to use a journal to capture any stay thoughts or record your experience. Sometimes, coming back to what we’ve written later means seeing what it is we were hearing, seeing, feeling more clearly.