Certainly the most disturbing words in the Lord's Prayer are found in verse 12.
"Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."
We sometimes flit like a butterfly over these words without letting them shock us to the core of our relationship with God. Jesus calls us to surrender all of our resentments, all unforgiveness, as we ask for His forgiveness.
As with all of the Lord's Prayer, these words can be expanded. You understand calling on God as Father better when you tell Him all that calling Him Father means to you. Your praise will be more exhilarating when you take time to hallow His name in every way you can think of. And you will receive a far greater blessing from this prayer when you let its seriousness wash over you, struggling to forgive people who are hard to forgive.
Let me show you two steps of spiritual growth that this part of The Lord's Prayer helps us take. By spending time praying this facet of the model prayer (1)we come to accept the mindset of forgiveness and (2)we surrender our hearts to God in the struggle of forgiveness.
In Matthew 18 beginning with verse 23 Jesus taught something crucial to the kingdom of heaven. He told the story of a king who decided to settle his accounts. He was reminded that one of his servants owed him ten thousand talents. A talent represented a fortune in those days. Ten thousand talents would be like a billion dollars today. It would have been impossible for a servant ever to repay such a sum. So the king arranged to sell the servant along with his wife and children and simply call the debt lost. But the servant came before him and pleaded for time to pay the impossible debt. The king showed him compassion and forgave the entire amount. The servant went away with great relief. But a fellow servant owed him a hundred denari. He went to him and demanded payment. When the other man pleaded with him for more time he grabbed him by the throat and began to choke him. He had him thrown into prison until he paid the full amount. The other servants were upset and told their master. The king summoned his servant and rebuked him. "You wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant as I had mercy on you?" In anger the king commanded that he be turned over to the tormentors until he paid all his debt. Jesus then concluded, "So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."
Does that mean God will resend your salvation if you will not forgive someone? I do not believe it does. In John 10:28 Jesus clearly said about those who are His sheep, "No one will snatch them out of my hand." But this parable, The Lord's Prayer and other passages like Ephesians 4:32, teach that God's forgiveness is inextricably connected to our forgiving others. Forgiving others should be the natural and supernatural overflow of a forgiven heart. When we pour ourselves into this prayer we immerse ourselves in the mindset of forgiveness. I will be honest there are times that I have had to ask God to forgive someone, still confessing that I was not yet forgiving from my heart. And I had to ask God to do the painful work in my inner being that would bring me to forgive as He so painfully purchased my forgiveness on the cross.