Forgive? Really?

Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11.24-26

Jesus has made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and He is teaching His followers some last minute truths. The topic is “prayer” and how to get answers to our prayers. It would be easy enough to scan through Jesus’ words and conclude, “I can ask what I want and He will give it to me.” V. 24 seems to give us a magic formula for answered prayer.

However, vs. 25-26 give us a little different picture. Look at this phrase: “ … if ye have ought against any …” Can you look deeply into your heart and say, without hesitation, that you don’t “have ought against any”? If that is an honest assessment, then you have already forgiven those who offended you.

Many of God’s children struggle at this point in their lives. But if we are serious about answered prayer, we will give heed to Jesus’ words here. We are not to forgive others so we can feel good about it or so they are “off the hook” with you. We are to forgive others because that is one key to answered prayer.

It seems clear that in order to have answered prayer, we must have faith: “when ye pray, believe that ye receive them”; and we must be willing to forgive. Anything short of these two criteria will short-circuit the answers to our prayers.

I like to keep short accounts with God. I don’t want to let things “stack up” between us. So I try to clear the slate often. It would be good if we could all do the things mentioned in these verses and keep “short accounts” with God. Just my thoughts …

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