Forgive others in Lord's Prayer


This is a continuation of an earlier post: If you ask forgiveness but you don't forgive others, you won't recieve forgiveness from God?

Many people assume that “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” is a conditional promise. That God forgives us “ONLY IF” we forgive others.

Is that interpretation true? If I fail to forgive sin A, does that mean God WILL NOT forgive me for committing sin B? If we are literally held to that strict ONLY IF interpretation, then we are truly in a world of hurt. No mere mortal forgives ALL sin.

I’m wondering whether, instead, that passage is asking one to forgive others, just as God forgives him. But, whereas one sometimes fails to forgive all sins that others commit, God is faithful to forgive all sins that one commits. Maybe in purgatory, one is cleansed of all sins that he failed to forgive. Until then, God asks us to try to be forgiving, realizing that no one perfectly forgives.


Uhmm…Yes, I think so too. I reread something that Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Jesus of Nazareth. My understanding of it was that forgiveness involves breaking a chain of trespass and retaliation. If this chain is not broken, we will not be taking full advantage Christ’s forgiveness of mankind that was manifested by his crucifixion. If we don’t detach from our desire to indulge in the selfish behavior of retaliation, we cannot join ourselves to the “communion of saints”, which exists in the service of Christ and others, not for the self. And it’s in that communion with Christ where our individual forgiveness lies.

So if we do not change our (and, consequently, the perpetrators) disposition by forgiving, we will not be able to receive forgiveness.

Here is how Benedict XVI puts it in his book Jesus of Nazareth. This is just a couple sentences out of several pages on the subject.

“Guilt calls forth retaliation. The result is a chain of trespasses in which the evil of guilt grows ceaselessly and becomes more and more inescapable. With this petition, the Lord is telling us that guilt can be overcome only by forgiveness, not by retaliation. God is a God who forgives, because he loves his creatures; but forgiveness can only penetrate and become effective in one who is himself forgiving.”


Perhaps considering this petition in light of Matthew 18:21-35 might shed some light on what is meant. Matthew 18:21-35 says:
21 Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
22 Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
23 That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
24 When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
25 Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.
26 At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
27 Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.
28 When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’
29 Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
30 But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.
31 Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
32 His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
33 Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’
34 Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.*
35 So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

In light of your OP–what do you think this parable is saying? How do you relate it to the Our Father?

The peace of Christ,


prayer forgives non mortal sin, but doesn’t necessarily forgive mortal sins.

I can’t forgive someone their mortal sins nor can they forgive me of mine. That requires a validly ordained priest to forgive mortal sin.



I think it goes to the heart of the matter.

If we do not forgive others, how can we expect/demand that God forgive us:

23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought to him, that owed him ten thousand talents. 25 And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go and forgave him the debt. 28 But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow servants that owed him an hundred pence: and laying hold of him, throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. 29 And his fellow servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt. 31 Now his fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came and told their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord called him; and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: 33 Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? 34 And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. 35 So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts. (St. Matthew 18)

While we are not able to know what is in man’s heart, we can forgive those who trespass against us from the heart, as God forgives us from His Heart.

Maran atha!



Hi, Steve!

…but we can forgive the trespass.

While only a Priest can give Sacramental Absolution, we, every Christian, is required to forgive those who trespass against them:

20 For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 21 You have heard that it was said to them of old: Thou shalt not kill. And whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. 22 But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath any thing against thee; 24 Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother: and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift. (St. Matthew 5)

Maran atha!



Howdy :smiley:
For clarification, my point was, regarding mortal sin

For venial sin, prayer? no sweat. However, I can’t forgive mortal sin. Especially what you do to someone else that is mortal sin, anymore than you can forgive me of that.


Hi, Steve!

Forgiveness from a fellow Christian does not mean Absolution from the sin.

Say you got drunk and I stole money from your wallet. In true remorse I confess to you my trespass and you forgive me; I still have to go to Sacramental Confession to Receive Absolution from God.

No matter what the sin may be, our willingness to forgive does not exempt the sinner from his/her commitment to God in the Sacramental Confession.

Consider the young girl that was murdered (some time ago, in the news)… with her last words she professed that she forgave her killers and ask her mom to also forgive them (Christian girl; Muslims murderers); she is in fact exacting the Commitment to God (forgive those who trespass against you–love, do not hate); yet, her act of Love and Generosity does not diminish the responsibility of those who killed her.

Maran atha!





It’s a bold and scary statement.
You’re telling God that you’re committed to the process of forgiveness, and hinging the forgiveness of your own sins on it.
Forgiveness is one of the forms love takes.
Sometimes a person trespasses on another personally, (like if Joe punches Steve) but sometimes the trespass is more generalized, from one group to another.
But in any case, we are to forgive. And it’s hard. But it’s what God wants.
And forgiveness sets you free from your own pain and bitterness.


Hi, Scarlett!

You’ve hit on two very important issues: a) forgiveness is an act of Love–it is our emulation of God’s Love and Mercy; b) forgiveness brings a huge relief to the person that does the forgiving–it removes the charge (offense) from his/her shoulders and mind as it allows Love rather than vengeance to become the seed that sprouts and grows. Which also has a secondary effect as it Witnesses God’s Love and Mercy through those who Fellowship in Him.

Maran atha!



How did Jesus live by the greatest commandments when he spent his time on earth?
How did Jesus look at the man who was nailing him to the cross; and love him as he loves himself?

I also keep in mind that it was also my sins that helped nail Jesus to the cross.


Thanks, all.

I understand that forgiveness is good and is what God wants us to do. But what if I fail to forgive (say, for example, because I am too emotionally damaged to forgive). Will God then refuse to forgive me of my sins?


The only requirement for forgiveness of sins (in the Sacrament of Confession) is contrition. Holding sins against others may interfere with contrition. Also note, being distrustful and cautious of someone who sinned against you is different than not-forgiving.

Such situations should be examined before approaching confession.


Ah, I think I might understand my confusion. I am not a Catholic, yet. As an Evangelical I was taught that my sins are forgiven the moment I believe in Jesus. Anyway, it now seems to me that, from the Catholic perspective, only sins that are confessed to a priest are forgiven. Is that true, wrong, or just too simple.


This is totally one of those “Divine Mysteries.”

Consider this passage:

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit himself asketh for us with unspeakable groanings. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts, knoweth what the Spirit desireth; because he asketh for the saints according to God. (Romans 8)

The Holy Spirit would be able to know the purity in our heart regardless of our personal limitations–He would use even that limitation to Convict us of our wrongness/error; hence, unless we actively seek to malign others (as in taking advantage of the Sacrament of Confession to get a clean bill for ourselves while holding other people’s transgressions against us patent and as a tool over their heads–St. Matthew 18:21-35.

Maran atha!



Non-Catholics, removed from the historical Church (Succession of the Apostles which include the Oral Tradition) have made a shortcut to God through “me and Jesus” theology. They ignore or interpret Scriptures that speak on confessing our sins as either “direct to God” or “it does not mean that we must go to a Priest.”

Yet, when we look into specific passages we find that that ole ‘Christ died for all past, present, and future sin’ is a flawed theology as we are met with:

6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. (1 St. John 1)

Yet, if we maintain that our confession is directly we God (‘me and Jesus’) then we ignore Jesus Who Delegated His Authority to the Church and the Apostles that Fellowship with Him:

18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed[d] in heaven.” (St. Matthew 16)
21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (St. John)
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses[e] to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. (James 5)

Maran atha!



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