Daniel 3:25, 34-43 / Matthew 18:21-35
There is a prayer format that goes by acronym ACTS and it stands for Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication.
That prayer format is interesting because it starts with adoration and supplication is at the end.
It is interesting because usually we would start with supplication, or petitions, first. We would launch our prayer first by asking for this and that.
It is not just a human tendency, but in a desperate time of need or in danger, we would be pleading with God for His help and deliverance.
In a desperate situation, we would even demand that God saves us immediately.
In the 1st reading, what Azariah prayed is indeed surprising. He and his companions Hananiah and Mishael were thrown into cauldron of fiery furnace to be burnt alive.
But he did not immediately launch into a desperate cry of help, instead he praised God for His mercy and admitted the sins of his people that resulted in such a dire state.
He continued by asking God to accept their contrite and humble hearts as an offering.
Of course, if we were to read the story further, we will know that God eventually delivered the three young men from the fiery furnace unharmed.
Azariah's prayer may not have followed strictly the formats of ACTS but he placed his petitions last and he praised God first.
So when it comes to forgiving someone who has done wrong to us and hurt us badly, it is not important to ask about whether we should forgive or how many times we ought to forgive.
Let us begin by praising God for His love and mercy, and admit that we have sinned against Him.
Then we will begin to understand what is meant as we pray "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us".