The Lord’s Prayer is confusing. I have understood that once forgiven by Christ, you don’t need to be forgiven again. But in that prayer, we are to pray for forgiveness of our trespasses. And in the footnote to it, we are told that if we don’t forgive, we won’t be forgiven. How come?
That the prayer is for believers—once-for-all-forgiven people—is clear: they are to pray to God their Father. They are His children.
What’s with this asking for forgiveness, then?
There are two kinds of forgiveness:
- Judicial forgiveness:
When you trust Christ as Savior, you are eternally forgiven—a forgiveness that needs no repetition or addition.
- Parental forgiveness:
Once in the family, God never kicks you out. But, when you do wrong, the Father (note the recurrence of this word in the passage) expects you to ask for forgiveness, and as Father He gives it. The footnote is like a child asking for the family car keys and the Father saying, “You’ll get them when you ask you brother for forgiveness for the wrong you did to him. That’s fatherly (parental) forgiveness.
Does this help?