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How Do You Pray For Forgiveness?

Dear Alyssa,

We all want our sins forgiven. The Bible explains to us that through the blood of Jesus we can have our sins forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). The Bible also says that we come in contact with Jesus’ death (and blood) through baptism (Romans 6:3-6). But what happens when we sin after we have been baptized? The inspired writer James said: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (5:16). Now, does that mean that we have to confess every single sin we have ever done? Certainly not. In fact, there are most likely sins that we do that we do not even know we do. There is no way that a person can know every sin he or she has committed. Jesus used a model prayer to teach His apostles how to pray. In that prayer, He taught His followers to pray: “And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” Notice that Jesus did not tell them to list every sin. He used the general statement that covered them all.  It may be the case that a person commits a sin that he or she needs to pray for specifically. If a person murders another person, or deliberately lies, or steals something, he should confess that particular sin. We read a story about a man who needed to confess a specific sin in Acts 8:18-25. But Jesus’ prayer shows us that God understands and listens to a general statement about forgiveness as well.


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