“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:9-12
So far, in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus has taught us to praise and revere the Father, to acknowledge His dominion over the universe, and to thank and request the Father regularly provide us with all our needs. Now, Jesus brings up sin.
The first time I remember ever hearing sin and sinners referred to as “debt” and “debtors” was when we joined a small Presbyterian church in Iowa back in 1975. I was baptized and grew up Lutheran, where, when we said the Lord’s Prayer, we asked God to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Another, plainer way to say this is “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Or, “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgive our debtors.”
Tomatoe, toMAHto. Say whatever version best suits your comfort level as long as it is honest with the Father. Is there a difference in saying one version or another? For me, no. I’m sure there are people for whom the translation makes a difference, so my response is, “use whatever version you like.” Or, maybe, “so what?” In this case, it makes little difference. I searched briefly online for what version is closest to the original and even that is in dispute, though it would have likely been spoken in Aramaic and recorded in Greek. Matthew talks about “debts” and Luke mentions “sins.” Other translations of the Bible use different terms.
Trespasses? Not to be found but, again, so what? Is the Father not going to accept your prayer if you don’t use the original wording? I doubt that; ask Him, though, because it’s up to Him. If, however, he’s looking at what we say from the heart, then a heart that prays for His forgiveness in the measure with which it forgives people who hurt it will be justly rewarded by the Father…
…Because that’s what matters. It’s the heart that the Lord is seeing. He wants us to eagerly, earnestly ask for His mercy and forgiveness, and He wants us to then give the same to others, even those who gravely hurt us. In my opinion, then, the version of the Lord’s Prayer that closely says “sin” probably best expresses the idea of the prayer. Whether that’s “sins,” “debts” and “debtors,” or “trespasses,” is up to you. As long as it honestly, earnestly expresses your feelings to the Father, knock yourself out. Only God could tell you if there is a wrong answer.
For more reading: Luke 11:2-4, Matthew 6:13
Father, hear my prayer and forgive those who sin, who trespass on others, who make themselves or others in spiritual debt. Forgive us all, Father.