Forgiveness And Power In Prayer
By Rich Carmicheal
The Herald staff hopes this issue will inspire, encourage and equip you greatly in your life of prayer. To that end, we are including several articles drawn from Andrew Murray’s book With Christ In The School Of Prayer. We hope you will take the rich teaching to heart and allow it to deepen your devotion to the Lord and to prayer, and to increase your expectation to all that the Lord has on His heart to do through prayer. Consider this brief description of the privilege and power of prayer in the opening of that book:
“Though in its beginnings prayer is so simple that the feeblest child can pray, yet it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which man can rise. It is fellowship with the Unseen and Most Holy One. The powers of the eternal world have been placed at its disposal. It is the very essence of true religion, the channel of all blessings, the secret of power and life. Not only for ourselves, but for others, for the church, for the world, it is to prayer that God has given the right to take hold of Him and His strength. It is on prayer that the promises wait for their fulfillment, the kingdom for its coming, the glory of God for its full revelation.”
We are also including messages about forgiving others (pp. 5-8), two of which we printed previously in 2013. We are doing this because of the vital connection between prayer and our relationship with others. As Andrew Murray points out in the message “Prayer And Love” (p. 5), “The prayer from a heart, that is either not right with God on the one side, or with men on the other, cannot prevail.”
Jesus certainly draws attention to this truth in His teaching. For example, in the midst of one lesson on prayer, He says, “…Whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). And in the Lord’s Prayer He not only instructs us to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12), but at the close of the prayer He emphasizes the need for forgiveness: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).
As C.H. Spurgeon notes, “there is no wriggling out of it. The man who refuses to forgive, refuses to be forgiven. God grant that we may, none of us, tolerate malice in our hearts. Anger glances in the bosom of wise men: it only burns in the heart of the foolish. May we quench it, and feel that we do freely, and fully, and heartily forgive, knowing that we are forgiven.”
Hopefully, you are full of forgiveness toward others and are not holding any grievances against anyone. But if you do have any unforgiveness in your heart, even a hint of it, then we hope the Lord works through this issue to help set you completely free so that nothing will hinder your relationship with Him, your relationship with others, and your effectiveness in prayer.
Truths about Forgiveness
With this in mind, I draw your attention to the following biblical truths regarding forgiveness:
• God is a God of forgiveness. One of the essential elements in God’s nature is His readiness to forgive. “For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psa. 86:5); “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Mic. 7:18-19).
• God does not remember our sins. Although God is omniscient and cannot forget anything, He can choose to not remember something. Thankfully, He chooses to not remember our sin! “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more” (Heb. 8:12; cf. Jer. 31:34); “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isa. 43:25). He removes our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west”! (Psa. 103:12).
• Forgiveness is made possible through the blood of Christ. The forgiveness of sins is costly, and can only be made through the shedding of blood (Heb. 9:22). The great news for us is that Christ has shed His blood, enabling our sins against God and against one another to be forgiven! “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7); “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7; cf. Eph. 2:14-16).
• As God’s people, we are created to be like Him, full of forgiveness toward others. “…That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness…. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:22-24; 30-32).
• As God’s people who have received forgiveness, we must forgive others. “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do” (Col. 3:12-14). See also the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew 18:21-35.
• We can see the past sins of others against us in a whole new light. A wonderful example of this is Joseph’s perspective on the evil actions his brothers had taken toward him. While the brothers were concerned that Joseph might hate them and repay them for all of their evil toward him, Joseph instead responded, “‘Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (see Genesis 50:15-21). In other words, he embraced God’s sovereignty – a principle that is crucial in the process of letting go of hurts and extending forgiveness (see pages 7-8). Our Lord is indeed sovereign, and we can trust Him and “know that all things work together for good...” (Rom. 8:28).
So again, we hope the Lord works through this issue to free you from any unforgiveness or bitterness in your life, and to lead you into deeper fellowship with Him and into more effective prayer.
We are so grateful for all of the prayers, gifts and words of encouragement offered by Herald readers in support of this ministry! We hope to hear from you soon!
Herald of His Coming
P. O. Box 279
Seelyville IN 47878 U.S.A.