First things First: The importance of forgiving before praying
“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive you your sins too.” (Mark 11:25)
This verse comes after Jesus tells His disciples all that faith and prayer can do – it can move a mountain into the sea, and if we ask and believe, we will receive. Then he says the verse above. It is as if Jesus is saying, “First things first.” Before you come talk to Me, before you ask anything, forgive those you need to forgive. I don’t think Jesus is discouraging prayer or trying to make demands on me. I believe He is truly wanting great prayer-time with me.
When my hearts hold bitterness, it not only is a distraction, but causes me to not have good conversations with God – I am holding back and placing my hurts and self above Him. Do the hurts magically go away when I forgive? Do the consequences of the wrongdoing vanish? No, but by forgiving, I place the person who wronged me off my own hook and place the person on God’s hook. And I am placing God back on the throne of my heart.
The pain may still be there and the consequences still in front of me, but I am able to release the burden of bitterness. Then, with a free heart and God where He belongs, I can truly open up in prayer with God, sharing all my heart’s joys, hurts, concerns, and requests – placing my trust in Him, knowing that He has forgiven me all of my sins and that I have a right relationship with Him. There are no barriers between me and God – I’m not holding anything back from Him and He is #1 – we can truly talk and I can truly listen.
Forgive those you need to forgive before you pray today. Unload any bitterness, any grudges, any vengeful thinking – and for me, sometimes I need God’s help in doing just that. But we need to move mountains, soften hearts, turn listening ears, have courage to plant seeds, and share the true Jesus with others. We cannot afford to have any barriers in our prayers.
Dear God, You are in me and with me always. How I want to truly converse with You – not just one way conversations, but ongoing two-way dialogues. LORD, please show me who I need to forgive and help me to forgive them and take them off my hook. You have forgiven me every sin in my life, the ones I know about and even those I conveniently forget – plus You have made me Your own daughter. Wow! Words enough cannot express my thanks! And thank You for prayer and for desiring great conversations with me, Your daughter. Thank You for listening and caring – Your patience and Your love. You are my LORD.