Sometimes we read or hear about our need to pray for God’s forgiveness. I just read that yesterday! It was in the context of how we need to confront our sins (as if we can do this on our own), and when we do, the Lord promises to forgive them, forget them and cleanse us. While there’s nothing wrong with being sorry for our sins and even asking for God’s forgiveness, do we need to be concerned he will withhold it? Depending on how it’s phrased, statements like this could leave one wondering if that’s the case. Is being forgiven dependent on how soon, how loudly, how heartfelt our prayers? And can we, as some believe, perform acts of penance to lessen the punishment or improve our chances of being forgiven?
When Jesus asked God to “forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34, MSG), he was including more than those who screamed for his crucifixion and nailed him to the cross. He was asking forgiveness for all of us – everyone who has ever lived. When the Father answered that prayer, we were all included in his immeasurable grace, all covered by his blood of reconciliation.
Those who have accepted God’s love and forgiveness and are disciples of Jesus, learning and growing in grace, have no worries about whether God will be forgiving. We live under the sheltering wings of his forgiveness and grace. Those who have not accepted it need simply turn to him and away from their old, earthly selves and then revel in the love he poured out at the cross. No doubt about it!