It is clear that we are to quickly forgive and be reconciled with others in love, so that we may rightly approach the altar of prayer. We are to take responsibility for our actions. When we have hurt someone else or caused them pain, we must go to them and ask for their forgiveness. Or if they have hurt us, we need to choose to forgive them.
Do whatever you can to be reconciled. If a person rejects your efforts for reconciliation, forgive them – and keep praying for God to bring unity between you.
If you are wronged – forgive! If someone slanders you – forgive! If you are mistreated or abused – forgive! Forgiveness does not mean pretending a hardship did not happen or that you were not genuinely hurt. Forgiveness is choosing to let the event and the person go – giving them up to God in prayer for Him to deal with. You are choosing to let go of revenge, bitterness, anger, or offense that can accompany unforgiveness – and to instead let the love and mind of Christ rule and reign in you!
God does not remember our sins when they are forgiven (Jer 31:34; Mic 7:19). He has the power to erase sin and some of its effects. When we choose to forgive others, we can also pray and ask the Lord to heal even our most painful memories by His grace and power. He is willing; He is able!
The Bible emphasizes one thing that should always characterize the true Christ-follower: true love for one another (John 13:35; 1 Pet 4:8,9; 1 John 4:7-12). This kind of love is worked into our lives when we yield our own selfish and carnal minds to the transforming work of God through the Holy Spirit. With Christ’s grace, we can forgive others and pray to God without hindrance.
- A third obstacle to effective prayer is wrong desires
“You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures” (Jas 4:3).
Many times in prayer, the things we ask of God are not necessarily bad. But the reasons we want them may be wrong. We are asking for something for the wrong reason, or “asking amiss”. This usually means we are asking for something with a selfish motive, or without thought or care for others, or for what God sees as best.
God is a loving Father. He will never give His children things that are carnal or harmful. Granting selfish requests would only make us more selfish, separating us from God and preventing His highest purpose from being fulfilled through us.
Would you give a child everything he asked for? Does a child always know what is good or what is harmful? In the same way, our Heavenly Father may not answer every request, if He sees that it is not the most loving thing for us.
We do not always ask of God with pure desires. Are we seeking God’s forgiveness just to escape our feelings of guilt? Do we desire healing so that we can pursue our own pleasures? Do we want financial provision for our own selfish gain or because we don’t want to depend fully on the Lord?