And forgive us our debts,
Or forgive us our sins/trespasses. It may surprise you, but missionaries do sin and do need to seek God’s forgiveness. Although some people put missionaries on a pedestal, they have the same struggles as everyone else. Pride, jealousy, anger, lust; you name it, missionaries are prone to it in the same way that other people are.
In fact, missionaries and other Christian workers often struggle more with some things than the general population. Sometimes Christian workers can rely on the fact that they are doing ‘Christian stuff’ all of the time and can neglect their own devotional lives, with the intendant problems that this can bring. It is dead easy for Bible teachers and preachers to become proud of what they are doing and to live for the performance rather than for seeing others built up in Christ. It is also true, as we’ll discuss in the next post, that Christian workers are often very vulnerable to the attacks of the Evil One.
as we also have forgiven our debtors
This bit is always uncomfortable. Christian work is based on character. It is important that missionaries, preachers and others have the technical skills they need to do the job, but it is far more important that they have a Godly character. Someone who is unforgiving, who bears grudges, is always going to struggle to be effective in Kingdom ministry. It isn’t always easy to forgive people, but we have to do it. Many a Christian minister has had their heart broken by the very people they are trying to serve, but bitterness and being unforgiving is just not an option.
In passing, it is also important that Christian leaders learn to seek forgiveness from other people when that is appropriate. It isn’t easy, but it has to be done.
So with that in mind, here are three things that you might like to pray for a missionary (or anyone else, come to think of it).
- Pray that they will keep short accounts with God and will regularly turn to him for forgiveness and strength to grow.
- That they will have forgiving hearts and won’t hold grudges against others.
- That they would seek forgiveness from others when they have stepped out of line.