8 Teachings of Jesus on Prayer — Teaching #8

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Jesus taught that prayer must be with forgiveness (Matthew 5:23, 24; 6:14-15; Mark 11:25-26) 

In these passages Jesus seems to be teaching us that if we have not forgiven someone we may as well not pray at all.  Mark 11:26 says, “If you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus is not saying here that if you don’t forgive others you have lost your salvation; but He is saying that in your unwillingness to forgive someone you have cut off your fellowship with God.  Why?  Because in your sin against others (in not forgiving them) you sin against God too.  Sin always separates us from God, and so this is why when we sin He will not regard our prayers (Ps. 66:18, Jn. 9:31).

Now we know that there are many different kinds of sin, and all of them, if unconfessed will separate us…

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5 Benefits of Forgiving Others

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There are so many benefits you can reap when you forgive others.  I will put them into five categories:

1. Forgiving others frees us from the consequences of not forgiving. When we forgive we avoid all the consequences we have previously discussed and more.

2. Forgiving others makes healing possible. When we learn to forgive, God forgives us and cleanses us.  And through that cleansing process He thoroughly heals us of all the pain that our anger, bitterness and resentment have caused us.  Moreover He heals us from disgust and rejection we feel from ourselves (from bad habits) and from others.  His cleansing and healing process is so complete that we will feel like a new person (2 Cor. 5:17).  

3. Forgiving others leads to the growth of relationships.What not forgiving has done to destroy relationships, forgiveness will do to develop and nurture relationships.  And that is…

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Five Reasons Why Forgiving Another Seems So Difficult

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1. Pride. Pride I think is the main reason why it’s so hard to forgive. Pride makes it harder for us to trust God. We say to ourselves, I don’t want to forgive, and I don’t have to!  And so in our pride we cut off God’s help to us.

2. Fear. Fear also keeps us from His help. We say to ourselves, I’m afraid; forgiveness is too hard. Here again we are not looking to God for help; we are instead looking at our weakness, the giant who hurt us, and the huge problem ahead of us.

So pride and fear I think are the real reasons why forgiveness is so difficult and why we don’t forgive.  But I also want to give you three of the reasons (or excuses) we will give as to why forgiveness is too hard for us—so we can take a look…

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Forgiving Yourself

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Forgiving yourself is what you will naturally do when you accept and receive God’s forgiveness.  When you are forgiven by Him, His forgiveness flows to you and gives you the strength you need to forgive yourself.

The reason why we don’t always forgive ourselves is because we fail to see that God loves us and cares for us and that He really wants to forgive us.  And so we fail to truly repent of our sins—thus the guilt of our sins remains with us.  Accordingly, because we are unable to trust the sacrifice of Christ for us, we feel the need to punish ourselves, to tell ourselves how dumb and stupid we are, to restrict ourselves from fellowship, and to wallow in our guilt.  Some have tried to starve themselves, and to cut themselves; some viciously mutilate themselves.  I think one of the more common ways people punish…

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Why We Sometimes Don’t Feel Forgiven 

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God tells us in 1 John 1:9 that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  This verse doesn’t say anything about repentance, but I think it is implied; with true confession repentance will always be included.  But the point I want to make here is that God has promised that if we confess our sins—which implies that we also repent—He will forgive us and cleanse us.  So if we don’t feel forgiven after we say that we have confessed, I don’t think we should blame it on God, because He will always keep His promise.  The problem must be that we haven’t really, genuinely confessed and repented.

But you say, “I did confess; I did admit my sin.”  Yes, but did you repent?  Did you decide to change your life?  Did you decide not…

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How to Receive and Be Cleansed By God’s Forgiveness

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God’s forgiveness is a gift that we receive by faith.  Just as we were saved by His grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9), His constant, day by day forgiveness also comes by grace through faith.  We can’t earn it by works, nor do we deserve it; we receive it by faith.  And the way we begin to have faith in Him is by coming to Him in prayer with a broken and humble heart—to confess our sins and repent.  Then when God sees that we are genuine in our repentance, He will freely offer us His gift of forgiveness and cleansing.

But how do we begin to confess and to genuinely turn from our sins?  How does this happen?  Well, to begin with, God moves in us to change our heart.  But then when you feel Him moving you, it is up to you to respond.  You must trust Him…

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How to Forgive: 9 Steps to Follow

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According to Matthew 5:23-24, the first thing we are to do when we remember that someone has something against us, is to go quickly and make friends with him, even if we are in the middle of prayer.  In fact, that is the time that the Holy Spirit will bring it to your mind.  And really, it doesn’t matter who the offender is, whether it is another that offended you or you that offended another, you are responsible to go and make reconciliation.  Don’t think that he must go to you.  When you meet him you must confront him in love.  If he has sinned you are to reprove him, but in private (Matt. 18:15).  If you have sinned then you must confess to him and ask his forgiveness.  If we practice this law of reconciliation then we will live in freedom from the chains of bitterness. 

But what if…

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