Forgiveness and Effective Praying: Matthew 6:14-15
“14) For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15) But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭14‬-‭15‬
Jesus now touches on the most important condition for effective prayer. The condition of the heart is important. Anger, bitterness, strife, hatred and a temperament of vengeance grieves the Holy Spirit. Paul elaborated on this in Ephesians 4:30-32. God is not moved by bitterness, He is moved by love and a forgiving heart.
Part of praying is aligning with the grace, mercy, compassion and love of God. The back of the prayer room has a cardiac surgery table where the Spirit of God works on the heart of the petitioner. I will elaborate in a moment.
I cannot overstate the danger of anger and bitterness. It interrupts fellowship with God and opens a door for Satan’s schemes. (See 2 Corinthians 2:10-11) These have defiled and ruined many Christians and destroyed countless relationships and churches. (See Hebrews 12:14-15)
In our text for today, Jesus laid down the principle that forgiveness is the primary condition for effective praying. Forgiveness is one of the doorkeepers that guards access to the presence of God and a crucial condition for answered prayer.
Thankfully, there are prayers I have uttered over the years that were met with deaf ears from God. They were prayers motivated by anger, bitterness, vengeance, greed or lust. Instead of answering my prayers, the Spirit of God performed emergency heart surgery on me. Through anger and bitterness my heart had become hard and calloused.
Healing usually starts with forgiveness. I have witnessed many otherwise sickly people become healthy through a baptism of forgiveness. Love, mercy and grace flood the void left when anger, bitterness and vengeance are expelled from the human heart. Forgiveness is crucial in this process.
Let me invite you on an abbreviated tour of a prayer room in the spiritual realm. To the back is a surgery table where the Great Physician works on the heart of the petitioner. This location is devoted to confession and repentance. (1 John 1:8-10) To one side is a fellowship lounge where the petitioner can enjoy prolonged communion with Jesus in the Spirit. This is where we are invited to bask in the presence of God. (1 John 1:3-7) The opposite side is arranged like a command center in a war room from which the Spirit of God issues urgent petitions and requests. This is where we align our prayers with the mind of Christ. (Romans 8:26-28) The front of the prayer room is occupied by the Throne of Grace. Here the saints are invited to come boldly and make petition. ( Hebrews 4:14-16, Philippians 4:4-7)
Forgive my feeble description of a prayer room, but this captures the notion that effective praying has more than one component. As your prayer life deepens, you will frequent each location in the prayer room. Sometimes I briefly visit each location when I pray. Other times the Spirit of God prompts me to abide in just one location. I spend much of my time in the fellowship lounge basking in the presence of God.
Now let me emphasize what Jesus was saying in Matthew 6:14-15. If your heart is full of anger and bitterness, you need to run quickly to the surgery table. Access to the other three area’s of the prayer room will be denied until you get your heart in order. You need to start with a baptism of forgiveness.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global