A look at the "Lord's prayer"

by Mushafiq

The Lord's Prayer, also known as the Our Father or Pater noster, is probably the best-known prayer in Christianity. On Easter Sunday 2007 it was estimated that 2 billion Catholic, Protestant and Eastern Orthodox Christians read, recited, or sang the short prayer in hundreds of languages in houses of worship of all shapes and sizes. Yet, Christians do not understand the essence of this prayer as understanding it would result in a severe blow to the very root of Christianity. Christianity does not lay much emphasis on the forgiveness of God. They believe that since "the wages of sin is death" (often quoted out of context) therefore, God had to incarnate in this world and die for our sins, so that we could be reconciled with God. However, this concept of atonement is contrary to the teachings of Jesus (pbuh) himself.

Let's analyse the Lord's prayer as taught by Jesus (pbuh). The Lord's Prayer is recorded in Matthew 6:9-13. It is as follows:

9.After this manner therefore pray you: Our Father which are in heaven, Hallowed be your name.
10. Your kingdom come, Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11. Give us this day our daily bread.
12. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For your is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Here Jesus(pbuh) teaches his disciples to ask for God's forgiveness. But the forgiveness is likened to our forgiveness to illustrate an important point. How do we forgive someone who owes us a debt? Do we forgive him and at the same time ask back the debt? NO. When it is forgiven NOTHING IS PAID.

Suppose someone slaps us without any reason and then after sometime realises his mistake and asks for forgiveness. Should we forgive him? Of course. But then should we slap him back? No, that would be ridiculous.

Similarly Jesus illustrates that God forgives all if only we ask God for forgiveness. If we sincerely repent and decide to improve ourselves and stay away from the major evils God will definitely forgive us. The concept of Atonement through the blood of Jesus crumbles to pieces when God's forgiveness is understood properly. This is perfectly consistent with Old Testament concept where "God forgives sins for His own sake".

The Prophets never taught the pagan concept of Atonement through someone's sacrifice. God knowing that we are weak will accept our sincere repentances and blot our sins when we sincerely turn to Him.