20 November 2005
Matthew 6:12, Psalm 51:1, Daniel 9:17-19 & Luke 11:4
The Westminster Shorter Catechism
Q. 105. What do we pray for in the fifth petition?
A. In the fifth petition (which is, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”) we pray that God, for Christ’s sake, would freely pardon all our sins; which we are the rather encouraged to ask, because by His grace we are enabled from the heart to forgive others.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern English:
Q.105. For what do we pray in the fifth request?
A. In the fifth request (Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors), encouraged by God’s grace, which makes it possible for us sincerely to forgive others, we pray that for Christ’s sake God would freely pardon all our sins.
1. Why is the word “and” used in this petition?
The word “and” is used to connect it to the former petition. We must realise our needs will not be supplied unless we are faithful to do something in regard to the confessing of our sins.
2. It is noted that some churches use the word “debts” and others the word “trespasses” in the prayer. What is the difference?
There is no difference between the two words. We are to understand by both of them our “sins” whether we are speaking of original, actual, or sins of commission or omission.
3. Is it possible for all of our sins to be forgiven?
Yes, God’s Word teaches: “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” (Psalm 130:3,4). All sins may be forgiven except the sin against the Holy Ghost.
4. Would it be possible for any man to forgive sin, or for man to be worthy of having his sin forgiven?
Neither of the two are possible, for only God can forgive sin (Mark 2:7) and we have no merit of our own (see Larger Catechism Q. 194).
5. Can we see a ground of our forgiveness in this petition?
Yes, there is a ground of our forgiveness and it is an encouragement. The ground is that by His grace we will be enabled to forgive others and thus we are forgiven.
6. How can we know our sins are forgiven?
We can know on the basis of the promises of the Word of God (Micah 7:18, 19).