“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses."The word στήκω (stēkō) is being translated to "stand" here, but this is a mistranslation, because when referring to standing, the word means "to stand firm." It also means, according to the lexicon, "to persevere, to persist." This is consistent with standing firm - not simply standing.
Would Jesus really instruct his students to pray while standing up? Why would that be? We know from Jesus' own example, that he knelt to his knees and even laid his body down when he prayed to God:
Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. (Mark 14:35)
He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed,... (Luke 22:41)This may seem like ritual to some, but falling to ones knees to pray expresses our humility. Further humility can be expressed by laying down or putting ones head to the ground. These acts of humility are not to show others how humble we are. Rather, they are to express to God that we are not feeling proud of ourselves. Jesus wasn't asking his students to make a show with their prayers. This is also why Jesus requested that his students pray in private:
"But you, when you pray, go into your closet and shut the door, and pray to your LORD who is in secret; and your LORD who sees what is done secretly shall reward you openly." (Matt. 6:6 DT)Jesus is reflecting upon the element of relationship with the Supreme Being. God is not a monolith or a vague white light. The Supreme Being is a person - He is the Supreme Person.
So why does Jesus request that his students ask forgiveness from God during their prayers?
If we trust the translations of sectarian scribes, then Jesus is speaking of "trespasses." What the heck are "trespasses?" Is that like going onto someone else's property - like trespassing? Is Jesus talking about asking God to forgive us for going onto other people's property? Or going onto His property?
These would make little sense. Everything is God's property, after all.
Even if we are speaking of committing sins against others - how would this make sense? If we hurt someone, for example, then we should be asking the person we hurt for forgiveness - right?
Rather, what Jesus is instructing his students to ask God forgiveness for is offenses against the Supreme Being. After all, we would naturally ask forgiveness from the person we offended - right?
When we ignore Him, or disregard Him. Or when someone blasphemes Him. These are direct offenses against the Supreme Being.
Why is ignoring the Supreme Being an offense against Him? Is He demanding our attention, and just mad when we don't pay attention to Him? Such a notion lacks understanding of the Supreme Being.
Just consider what would happen if we were at a party and our best friend walks in. How would they feel if we ignored our best friend for the whole party? How would they feel if we didn't immediately come over and greet them, and hug them and perhaps even offer them a beverage? They would feel offended, right?
Yes. But it isn't that they were demanding our attention. It is because they feel so close to us. Our best friend feels so close to us, that if we ignored them they would feel hurt. They would feel hurt because they want to exchange a relationship with us, right? Isn't this what best friends do - exchange a relationship?
This is precisely what is occurring with the Supreme Being. He is our Best Friend. We have a long relationship. It's just that we have currently forgotten that relationship. We fell into this physical world and have taken on these temporary physical bodies, and have forgotten our relationship with our Best Friend.
And the reality is, the Supreme Being is here with us. We may not be able to see Him with our physical eyes or other physical senses - because He has specifically set up the physical world as a place where we don't have to see Him - because we wanted to get away from Him.
So Jesus wants us to ask forgiveness for offending the Supreme Being with our lives - all the times that we forgot to include our Best Friend in our plans. All the times that we forgot to remember Him. For all the foods that we ate without offering them to Him first. For all the self-centered things that we've done without remembering to do them for Him.
In other words, all the times that we have failed to put our love upon Him, and act in a self-centered manner.
All of these offend our Best Friend God not because He is an angry, vengeful God - as many have portrayed: But because God wants us to be happy.
The Supreme Being wants each of us to be happy, and the only way that can happen is if we are exchanging our loving relationship with Him.
Why? Because this is our nature. This is our purpose for existing.
Some see the various instructions of the Supreme Being - given personally and given through His representatives - as if they are threatening us: As if He is saying, "You better do this stuff or else."
But that's not it at all. The Supreme Being is telling us that if we don't put our love upon Him, we will be empty within. If we don't exercise our loving relationship with Him, then we will be miserable. We will be unfulfilled. We'll be lonely inside - even if we are surrounded by many other physical bodies.
So the situation is more like a best friend who tells his friend who wants to jump off a bridge into the freezing water below, "please don't jump. You will be hurt. You'll feel pain."
Such a statement by a best friend is not a threat. It's not, "don't jump or I'm gonna get you." Or, "don't jump or else." Rather, it is a kind warning, given out of love. Given out of care.
The Supreme Being's instructions are very similar. They are given to us out of love. He doesn't want us to suffer anymore. He doesn't want us to continue suffering in our self-centeredness. And He knows that if we continue to live in a self-centered manner, we will continue to suffer.
It is not as if He's making us suffer. After all, the Supreme Being created this physical world because we wanted to get away from Him in the spiritual realm. We wanted this world to exercise our desires.
The Supreme Being didn't create all the suffering either. We created the suffering. It was our self-centered activities that created all the suffering. All the Supreme Being did was set up a world where every action has a reaction. It was each of us that did the actions. So the suffering that we have in this world is a product of our self-centered activities. As a result, we have suffering.
This is essential for us to graduate to the level of unconditional love that the Supreme Being dwells within. His world is full of unconditional love. God loves us dearly regardless of how we might have offended Him. He loves us and cares for us regardless of whether we have rejected Him or blasphemed Him.
We can have a small taste of this consciousness when we forgive others for what they may have done against us. When we forgive others who have hurt us, we become a vehicle for unconditional love.
This consciousness of unconditional love is not only the place where we can ask God for forgiveness. It is also the place where we can re-establish our lost loving relationship with the Supreme Being - our Best Friend and Soul Mate. This and only this will make us happy. This is why Jesus' (and Moses') most important instruction was:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’" (Mark 12:30 and Deuteronomy 6:5)