walk in the word
6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him…. 12And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” —Matthew 6:6-8, 12.
Prayer is entering God’s presence. It’s boldly going where we wouldn’t dare go unless Christ went with us (see Hebrews 4:14-16). One way to know you have stepped into God’s presence is the irresistible desire to confess. Our sin is always apparent when we are truly exposed to God’s holiness. If you’re not aware of unworthiness then you’re not actually aware of God. This is why it’s important to ask, “Is my prayer repentant?” when we spend time talking with God.
In Matthew 6:12 Jesus taught us to say “…And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. Now that’s not a credit card prayer. It’s not lighthearted forgiveness. Its’ talking about the sin against us that isn’t easy to overlook. If some one strikes you verbally, physically, or emotionally, that creates a debt; an obligation. They owe you now. And what we’re praying here is, “God, we acknowledge we have offended You, God. We have slapped You, as it were. And we have created an offense. And we are asking God that You would forgive us the same way we forgive other people who create offense with us.” Really?! Is that what you thought you were praying? That’s a hard prayer to pray—and mean! “Forgive me the way I forgive my sister, God. Do it just like that.” “Take my high water mark in forgiveness and apply that standard to me, God.” Talk about your prayer changing you!? “I want to be forgiven the way I forgive other people.” You see, because in prayer, I expand my sense of how I have offended God. And I thereby begin to minimize my sense of how others have offended me. And that’s prayer changing me.
Is my prayer repentant?
So, don’t come to church with an attitude toward somebody as if your back is turned toward them. “We may have gotten here in the same car, but we are not on the same program.” “If you come to worship,” Jesus said, “and you remember that you have something against someone, leave your gift at the altar. Go be reconciled to the person and then come and bring your worship” (Matthew 5:23). Are you practicing radical forgiveness?—James MacDonald
Journal: What are some matters that I may be holding against others that I now realize I must forgive because those things are damaging my relationship with Christ? What will forgiveness require? (For help on this, the short series from Harvest Bible Chapel entitled “Have the Funeral” can be a great help.)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I do want to forgive others because I realize that holding things against them keeps me tied to them and prevents me from fully participating in all You have for me. Show me anything I’m failing to forgive in others and give me the strength to hand those things over to You in forgiveness that I might be free! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
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