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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading
Not all prayer is equal. Some prayers are more effective than others. In fact, some people are able to pray more effectively than others. But this isn't because God plays favorites. Nor is it because some folks have more "prayer power" than others, which almost makes "prayer power" be like magic.
But we all know that one person whose prayers seem to shake the very foundations of Hell and open the floodgates of Heaven. That's the person, we all like to call up and and to whom we like to give our special prayer requests. In some part of our being we think that if that person is praying for us, surely God will hear and answer!
But it really isn't supposed to be like that. Actually, everyone is equally able to have powerful prayer. Why don't we then? There are some necessary prerequisites for powerful prayer. Failing to complete these preparations, dampens our prayer power, and may inhibit it completely!
The single most dampening prayer inhibitor is unforgiveness! Messiah told His followers that before we pray, we need to forgive those who have caused us offense. If we do not forgive our offenders, Yahweh will also not forgive us for our sins! And if we are unforgiven for our sins, we cannot pray with effectiveness or power.
Mark 11: 25-26 "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in Heaven forgive your trespasses."
Joyce Meyer is a leading teacher on Spiritual Warfare. In her latest book, Do Yourself a Favor…Forgive, Joyce delves into the important process of forgiveness. CBN.com Internet Producer Beth Patch conducted an interview with her about this book:
Why is forgiveness so important?
So many people live with anger and unforgiveness, and many of them are Christians. At conferences, I have asked the crowd, “How many of you are mad at someone right now?” And it’s been amazing to me that each time, it looks like about 80-90% of the people raise their hand. So it’s a common problem that we need to confront.
I know from personal experience how damaging it can be to live with bitterness and unforgiveness. I like to say it’s like taking poison and hoping your enemy will die. And it really is that harmful to us to live this way.
Why is forgiveness so difficult for us?
When an injustice happens, we want to be vindicated. A lot of times, people feel that if they forgive the person who hurt them, then they will continue to take advantage of them or not take responsibility for what they did wrong. And if we’re honest, we’ll admit that we usually want the person who hurt us to pay for what they did. We can’t get past this until we get the revelation that only God can pay us back. He is our Vindicator and will heal and restore us if we will trust Him and forgive our enemies as He has told us to do.
How do you know if you have truly forgiven someone?
Forgiveness is not a feeling—it’s a decision we make because we want to do what’s right before God. It’s a quality decision that won’t be easy and it may take time to get through the process, depending on the severity of the offense.
The first step is the desire to do it, no matter how you feel toward the person who hurt you. Then you make the decision to do it, and it’s a “quality decision,” which means it’s a firm decision that won’t change when your feelings change. The next step is to depend on the Holy Spirit to help you do what you’ve decided to do. See, just deciding to forgive isn’t enough because willpower alone won’t work—we need divine strength from God. As He gives us the strength, we need to pray for our enemies and bless them. Praying for those who have hurt us is vital to successfully forgiving them.
What do you mean by hidden unforgiveness?
Years ago, I remember going to a church service and when the pastor said he was going to teach about our need to forgive people who had offended us, I thought something like, “I don’t need to hear this. I don’t have any unforgiveness in my heart.” But as the service went on, I realized I really was offended and upset with two people in my life at that time. God helped me to see that I was not being honest with myself about this sin in my heart and I needed to confront it.
We often think more highly of ourselves than we ought to, and it’s easy to judge others and be critical of their weaknesses and shortcomings. But this self-righteous attitude is a sin that we can be blinded to because we’re so focused on what the other person did wrong. The reality is this attitude is worse than the wrong behavior we’re judging.
We have all heard to forgive and forget. What do you say about that?
There are some hurts that we experience that can be forgiven but we won’t forget them. I have forgiven my father for the years of sexual, emotional and verbal abuse that he put me through, but I haven’t forgotten everything he did to me. Because I have forgiven him, I can share my testimony to help other people find the healing and restoration they need.
If you’re holding on to an offense, then you haven’t forgiven the person who hurt you. Unforgiveness finds excuses to talk about what people have done to us, and we’ll tell anyone who will listen. There’s a difference between sharing your testimony to help someone and talking about what’s been done to you because you are angry about it.
Can you forgive so much that you become a doormat?
God isn’t asking us to be doormats for people to walk all over. There are going to be times when He leads you to confront someone about their bad behavior. Forgiving others has to do with your heart attitude toward them and how you treat them. Jesus never mistreated anyone just because they mistreated Him. He confronted them in a spirit of gentleness and then continued to love them.
The Bible tells us not to return evil for evil or insult for insult in 1 Peter 3:9. Romans 12:21 says we overcome evil with good. When we forgive our enemies, we are more concerned about what they are doing to themselves than what they are doing to us.
What can people do to stop negative emotions from popping up when thinking about the person or incident they have forgiven?
Continue to pray for the person or situation that caused your pain and anger. Ask God to give you understanding about why they did what they did. When my dad finally told me he was sorry for all of the abuse he had done to me throughout my childhood, he said he knew what he was doing was wrong, but he didn’t think it was hurting me as much as it had. I believe him. And I firmly believe that usually, the person who hurt you doesn’t realize what they’ve done or how much it hurt you.