Yesterday we saw that the fundamental attitude we should have in prayer is one of dependence on God. We applied that to our material needs. But as we grow to know God and know ourselves better, we realise that there are many areas of life where we need to recognise that we depend on him.
O. Hallesby describes this as having an attitude of helplessness. He says:
Prayer therefore simply consists in telling God day by day in what ways we feel that we are helpless. We are moved to pray every time the Spirit of God, which is the spirit of prayer, emphasizes to us anew our helplessness, and we realize how impotent we are by nature to believe, to love, to hope, to serve, to sacrifice, to suffer, to read the Bible, to pray, and to struggle against our sinful desires.
Look over this list, and ask yourself: In which of these areas do I need to recognise my helplessness? Turn that area of your life over to God.
In the next request in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus focuses on a particularly important area of helplessness and dependence: our own sin.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (Matt. 6:12)
Luke’s version of the prayer uses the word “sins” instead of “debts”. Both words help us understand why we rely completely on God’s forgiveness. “Sins” reminds us that we have broken God’s law and committed wicked acts which deserve his anger. “Debts” reminds us that we can never repay God or make up for what we have done. Our debt is bigger than we can possibly imagine. But the good news of the gospel is that, through Jesus, God freely forgives and cancels our impossibly big debt (Matt. 18:23-27).
When faced with our sin, depending on God means asking him to forgive us. But as we ask him, we can also know that even before the words are out of our mouth, he has already forgiven us completely and joyfully!
God’s forgiveness does not just cancel our sin, it also transforms us. It brings the fruit of repentance—not just feeling sorry, but seeking to make right the wrongs we have done to others, and striving to throw off “the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1). And God’s forgiveness also enables us to begin to learn how to forgive others (Eph. 4:32).
Today, spend time being real with God about your sin. Be specific—name the ways you have dishonoured him. Be brutally honest—don’t minimise your sin or give it a less offensive name. And as you ask God to forgive you, rest in the comfort of knowing that you are already forgiven, because Jesus took your guilt and shame on himself. If there is something you have not confessed to anybody else, or know you need extra help with, call or message your minister or a close Christian friend right now.
During the day, simply remember and enjoy God’s forgiveness!