Our prayers should show that we are aware of our sinfulness.
We often try to pretend we are better than we are. But are we any better than the Pharisee, the pastor or priest of his time, who boasted to God in prayer:
"God, I thank you that I am not like other men-- robbers, evildoers, adulterers-- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get" (Luke 18:11-12).
What we forget is: "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23).
It is important that we be aware of our sinful nature. This helps us to remember that we are the ones that break our relationship with God; and that without constant contact with God, we are placing ourselves in the grip of Satan, who "prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
We hurt people constantly, and in doing so we hurt our Beloved Father. Without Godís forgiveness, we canít access the full power of the Holy Spirit or have the love of God manifested in our lives. We are sinners and we need Godís grace; and it is only by recognizing our sinful state that we realize our need of forgiveness.
The same grace and mercy that God extends to us, must also be extended to those who have offended us. Didnít Jesus, while He was dying on the cross, forgive the ones that had put Him there? He said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). Later, the apostle Paul encourages us to "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you" (Eph. 4:32). Jesus also said:
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your father will not forgive your sins" (Matt. 6:14-15).
You see, when we donít forgive, we are allowing anger, hurt, and hatred to dominate our minds. Thus, we are persisting in our sins.
Isaiah 59:1-2 tells us:
"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear."
When sin separates us from God, our communication with Him is broken. When we cannot forgive, we are separating ourselves from Godís ability to hear our confessions and forgive us. Sin is a terrible disease. Itís the disease that breaks human relationships, as well as heavenly ones. If we canít forgive others, there is no room in our hearts for the Holy Spirit.
If Jesus wanted to forgive those who were torturing Him, how can we place ourselves above Him by refusing to forgive the ones who have hurt us? The Bible tells us that "these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor. 13:13). Love is the supreme manifestation of God in our lives, but love can only reign when we have forgiven others.
"Daddy, I am by nature a sinner. I want your forgiveness, but I understand that the full power of Your forgiveness is only available to me when I have forgiven others; and thus, am no longer being dominated by sin. Papa, I want that open line of communication with You! I forgive those who have hurt me. Please forgive me so that Your love may dominate my life!"
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