“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that you Father in heaven may forgive your sins.” (Mark 11:25)
Pastor Neo from Indonesia was preaching a sermon about ‘Father’s Love’. A young girl came to him with a heavy weep around her cheeks after he preached the Word on one Sunday morning. The young girl told him that she had been abused by his father. Every time when her drunkard father went back home, he would beaten her with his thick leather belt. She told her story to Pastor Neo with such a heavy emotions. And then she opened her heart out,
“I cannot call God a Father… I cannot pray and address God as a Father. Every time I open my mouth, my lips just can’t say anything. Pastor, why?” as she looked at his compassionate eyes.
“Daughter, hmmm…” he paused for a while “you must learn to forgive your father.” He continued, “Ask Him to remove all the bitterness and resentment from your hearts. It must be hard for you right now to forgive everything that your earthly father ever did to you… I might not understand all of this very well, but I know that you love God with all your heart. And child, remember how God forgives you for all your sin?”
He was trying to refresh her mind with God’s loving forgiveness. She nodded at him with tears streaming from her eyes, “Yes, Pastor.”
“Well, as you had received His forgiveness… why don’t you extend that forgiveness to your father. God will give you strength to do this. He will help you with the recovery.” Pastor Neo preached the same sermon again to this young girl that morning. But this time it was more personal and direct. She agreed to allow Pastor Neo to prayed for her.
A week later, Pastor Neo was surprised when he saw the same young girl approached him and told him that she had made a reconciliation with her father. This time with tears of joy she said that she had a face-to-face conversation with her father and tells him ‘I forgive you father for what you had done to me. I do this because God had forgiven me.’
Her father’s pride break like a glass smashing on the floor and hugged her and seeks for her forgiveness. They cry that night and both, as what Pastor Neo told, make a new covenant with the Lord to life a righteous life.
“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him…” Based on the story above, unforgiving spirit is a barrier to effectual prayer. Such a spirit will hinder both prayer and faith. The young girl had a problem to pray to God our Father boldly because her unforgiving had hindered her to pray effectively. From what I understand in the verse above is this: God will not forgive us unless we forgive other people for their sins against us.
My friend, do you have difficulties when you try to open your heart to pray? That something isn’t right and it seems that God had shut His ears to your requests? Why is that? It’s probably because of the unforgiving spirit that you had with others – parents, brothers and sisters, co-workers, friends etc. For our prayer to be heard by God, we must learn to forgive others. We must freely forgive others as God had forgives us.
Forgiving others is hard, especially those who are closer to us. C.S. Lewis said that the work of forgiveness must be done over and over again. In his book, Reflections on the Psalms, he suggests that we need to forgive others seventy times seven not only 490 different offenses but sometimes for only one offense. Prayer needs love. Prayer needs forgiveness. Prayer of faith needs love and forgiveness. Our relationship with others reflects our relationship with God. And our love for God will affect our love for others.
Forgive other people for their sins against us and your prayer will definitely be heard by our Father in heaven. Forgive in love. Have faith in God …”so that you Father in heaven may forgive your sins.”