The Lord’s Prayer with Trespasses

Last month, I had the privilege of being a part of the North Carolina Preaching Festival*. And as with most church conferences, there were services of worship interspersed throughout the day. The host church did an amazing job with these services, but I found myself trying not to laugh out loud when I saw one slide in particular.

The slide in question read: The Lord’s Prayer With Trespasses. You can see a cell phone photo below that I tried to sneakily snap while everyone was praying… I know, bad form, but I wanted to share it with you.


The slide specifies that we would pray “forgive us our trespasses” as opposed to other commonly used alternatives, such as “forgive us out debts.” This is an act of hospitality, as it provides clear instructions, and I commend the host church and the conference’s worship team for providing this often overlooked instruction.

For some reason though, I found the slide hilarious. I can’t really explain it — it either makes you chuckle or it doesn’t — but it struck me that perhaps it was an example of unintended honesty:

We were praying the Lord’s Prayer with trespasses. Literally with trespasses.

We carry our sins, brokenness, prejudices, and fallibilities with us into the prayer, and we lay them before God. We also bring the sins, brokenness, prejudices, and fallibilities that others have used to harm us, and we lay them before God.

I don’t know why, but this critical part of the Lord’s Prayer so often gets lost for me — maybe it does for you too. Maybe it is the familiarity — the fact that I have it memorized and can recite it while also mentally making a grocery list. Perhaps it is even the fact that we call it “The Lord’s Prayer.” If it’s Jesus’ prayer, who was perfect, and I am praying it, maybe I’m perfect too! Or, along the same lines, I know I can be like the religious professional in the Scriptures who gives thanks for not being like the sinful people.

As I write this, I have the United Methodist General Conference live stream on in the background. They are still debating the rules for the conference, even though it began a couple days ago. By the time this post goes live, there will only be a couple days left, and I cannot imagine all that will happen once they move past rules and into actual issues. But if these first couple days are any indication of what is to come, perhaps I should email them this slide.

We all need to be reminded from time to time that we live life with trespasses. We do the work of ministry, whether it is leading the Lord’s Prayer in worship or serving as a delegate to an extremely important conference, with trespasses. So do all the people with whom we live, work, and serve.

But the good news of the Gospel is that we have a God to whom we can bring these trespasses and go forward in peace.

*The NC Preaching Festival was an incredible event. While I was officially there as a workshop leader, I had a blast attending the conference. I learned so much, and I highly recommend that you block out the last week of April on your calendar and plan to be at one in the future!

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