Forgiveness and the Heart of God

Prayer is less about getting God to do something we want, and more about getting ourselves in tune with who God wants us to be.

When Jesus said “When you pray, say…” I believe he meant it. There is something transformational about the commanded words that Jesus gives us within the Lord’s Prayer…but they aren’t given for us to speak in order to transform God. They are given so that by saying, reflecting, and absorbing these words into our hearts we can be transformed to where our very longings resonate with the heart of God.

Simply put, every desire of our heart cries out “Your kingdom come!”

Close to the heart of our God is forgiveness. When Yahweh draws near to Moses on Mount Sinai, he reveals himself as follows:

“The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness, keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

Exodus 34:6-7 NET

Notice that part of God’s hesed (“loyal love”) is that he forgives iniquity and transgression and sin. This is huge! When God introduces himself and represents his character in words, it includes compassion, grace, loyal love, faithfulness, and forgiveness! What an amazing God!

But God is no push over either. When you choose to be his enemy and reject his covenant, then punishment comes. God is generous, abounding in grace and willing to forgive wrong, but he will not force his forgiveness on those who don’t want it. 

Forgive us our sins, 
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

Luke 11:4 NIV

God is willing to forgive our sins, and we should realize that our sins are many. God is willing to forgive! And God wants our hearts to be like his. The two lines of this statement are connected. We ask God to forgive because (Greek: gar) we forgive. 

We must have a forgiving heart toward those who have sinned against us in order to receive forgiveness from God. This is the way Jesus teaches us to pray for forgiveness. Our forgiveness depends on our willingness to adopt God’s posture of forgiveness towards others.

So if you still harbor unforgiveness towards others, now is the time to ask God to soften your heart and help you forgive as he does. It’s clear that forgiveness is important to God. Is it important to you?

Daily Psalms – Psalm 65

Daily Psalm Reading – Psalms 61-65

Today we turn our attention to Psalm 65: a song of thanksgiving, but also one of supplication.

The psalmist begins with a focus on public acknowledgement of sin, something that seems to rarely happen anymore. We think of sin as an individualistic. If I sin it’s my problem, and if you sin it’s your problem. Scripture views sin as effecting everything and everyone. You would offer sacrifices for your sin, I would offer for mine, and corporately the nation would offer sacrifices, seeking forgiveness for the nation as a whole.

When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.

Psalm 65:3 NIV

Can you imagine our political leaders doing something like this? Can you imagine a joint session of congress where political leaders acknowledge the sins of the nation and petition God for forgiveness? I can’t imagine it either, but it is something that truly needs to happen. Until that time comes, we as believers (individual) and the church (corporate) need to intercede for the forgiveness of our nation. In doing so, we draw nearer to God who welcomes us to do so.

Why should we praise God? He answers prayer (v. 2), he forgives (v. 3), he allows us to draw near (v. 4), he sits over creation in power (v. 5-8), and he blesses us with provisions (v. 9-13).

So will we honor him? Will we dedicate our lives to him? Will we give God what he deserves for being so good to the undeserving?

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.

Psalm 65:1 NIV