Lord’s Prayer - Part 4: The Spirit-filled forgiven community is a forgiving community

In The Forgotten Father, by Thomas A. Smail, the author suggests that with the particular placement of petition for pardon (“Forgive us our sins”) Jesus teaches his disciples that we are to make such petition only after we have already
praised the Father, exposed ourselves to the call and grace of his kingdom, set ourselves within the generosity of his provision for us” that we can and must see the wrongness of our present response to him and have recourse to his cleansing and forgiveness (p. 166).
[Valuable advice for pastors, worship planners and worship leaders, in designing and carrying out worship services.] To bypass the clear priorities of these earlier parts of the Lord’s prayer (Luke 11:1-4), and to immediately rush to request pardon can lead to a “guilt-ridden religion that is obsessed with its sins and unworthiness.”

Smail also reminds the people of God of the social consequences of the gospel of forgiveness – that it is not merely an “individualistic inner transaction with God,” for receiving God’s forgiveness will mean sharing forgiveness with others (“for we also forgive everyone who sins against us”).
The forgiven community is also a forgiving community among it’s own membership and towards its enemies outside. If it is not that, it brings into doubt the reality of God’s forgiveness which it exists to proclaim (p. 166).
Finally, Smail writes that God’s delivering action in providing his Son for us “not only covers past transgression, but sets us free from assaulting and continuing temptation.” The author cites scholars who say the intent of the original language in the next line of the prayer about our ongoing sanctification might be better rendered as, “And do not let us be handed over to the power of temptation,” as Jesus teaches his disciples to continue praying as we find our pathways filled with traps and lures which test our faith.

Smail then points to Jesus’ further comments on some of the petitions (Luke 11:5-13) and to Jesus’ invitation to the disciples in Verse 13 to pray for the Holy Spirit, as “it is only in the Spirit that the Lord’s prayer could be prayed with any reality.”
Only in the Spirit can we call God Father (Gal. 4:6); only when filled with the Spirit can we praise his name (Eph. 5:19), that we receive the good gifts of God (I Cor. 12) and are convinced of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11) and so are sanctified and kept out of the power of evil (p. 167).
Smail reminds us that even in synoptic teaching of Luke, we see implications that Christian prayer is Trinitarian in nature, as prayer is
addressed to the Father, the way to whom is through Christ the Son who teaches his disciples to pray, and the possibility of that praying is the gift of the Holy Spirit. That is explicitly formulated in Eph. 2:18, which also reminds us that such a prayer has its locus within the fellowship where Jews and Gentiles have through the cross been reconciled into one family. “Through him [Christ] we have access by one Spirit to the Father (p. 168).
[The late James B. Torrance listed Thomas A. Smail as one of his most brilliant students. Other helpful books by Smail include The Giving Gift: The Holy Spirit in Person.]

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