Forgiven to forgive
by Mervyn Morelock, Lt. Colonel –
Sometimes our prayer life is hindered. We have all experienced it. Our prayers seem to go no higher than the ceiling. It’s troubling, but it may be because we have allowed an unforgiving spirit in our life.
Oswald Chambers writes: “If the unmerited forgiveness of God awarded to me is not exercised toward others, my justification is annulled. Forgetting is the essence of divine forgiveness. Unless my forgiveness of other people ‘forgets’ their trespasses against me, the grace of God in me is a mere painted flower, and I am a play actor.”
Do you remember that day when you first felt the exhilaration of knowing that you were forgiven? It’s a wonderful realization that all those sins of the past are forgotten, forgiven, done! Praise God!
Recently I counseled with a man at the altar for salvation. He prayed the sinner’s prayer, “Jesus, forgive my sins and come into my heart.” A day or two later he came to me and said, “Chaplain, you know what? I feel so different! I am forgiven!”
Have you ever felt like that? For some of us it’s an experience that may have dimmed over the years—but it is still true and needs to be a part of our daily testimony. “I am forgiven!”
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Step Eight, states: “We made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”
But then it goes on: “Listing all the people we have harmed will probably trigger a natural defensiveness. With each name we write down, another mental list may begin to form—a list of the wrongs that have been done to us! How can we deal with the resentment we hold toward others, so we can move toward making amends? When we look at all that God has forgiven us, it makes sense to choose to forgive others. This also frees us from the torture of festering resentment. We can’t change what others have done to us, but we can write off their debts and become willing to make amends.”
Our prayer life is hindered when we allow sin into our lives and when we allow resentments toward others to influence our lives. You’ve experienced it. Many relationships have been wrecked because hurtful words have been allowed to fester and linger. A well-known preacher was asked why he went to the altar so often. After all, he was the preacher. He replied; “The reason I go to the altar so often…is because I leak!”
If you are having trouble in your prayer life, perhaps you are “leaking” and need to take another walk to the mercy seat to ask God to fill you with his forgiveness, and that he would help you forgive someone, even if they haven’t asked for forgiveness. There is great liberating power in prayer when we are free from resentments, anger and jealousy!
We say a prayer nearly every Sunday; it’s called The Lord’s Prayer. Perhaps we should listen to the words more carefully—and mean them. And forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us (Matt 5:12 NLT).
Want to have power in your prayers? Be sure to include forgiveness!