With Christ in the School of Prayer

Day 14 – Prayer and Love

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive anyone you have something against; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive your transgressions.” – Mark 11:25.

In the heart of every believer lies a mystery: the power of prayer is intimately tied to the power of love. In this lesson, drawn from Andrew Murray’s teachings on prayer, we look at the crux of this connection. Jesus’ words in Mark 11:25 reveal a divine truth – the act of forgiving is not just a moral obligation but a spiritual one, deeply connected to the efficacy of our prayers.

Prayer, in its deepest sense, is communion with God, an intimate conversation with the Divine Creator. However, this conversation is not in isolation. It is set against the backdrop of our relationships with others. Christ’s teachings repeatedly emphasize the inseparability of love for God and love for neighbor. A heart harboring resentment or bitterness, no matter how justified it might seem, is a heart that struggles to truly connect with God in prayer.

Jesus, in His wisdom, knew the human tendency to compartmentalize our spiritual lives. We often think that our prayer life is distinct from our everyday interactions. Yet, the Lord’s Prayer, a model given to us by Christ, intertwines asking for God’s forgiveness with our act of forgiving others. This is not a mere rhetorical flourish but a profound spiritual principle.

But what does it mean to forgive? Forgiveness is not a passive act of simply forgetting or ignoring wrongs. It is an active choice to release resentment, to let go of the desire for retribution, and to see the other person, not through the lens of their transgression, but through the lens of God’s grace. This is the heart of the gospel – a message of unmerited forgiveness and grace. When we forgive, we align our hearts with God’s heart, creating a conduit for His power and presence in our prayers.

The challenge, of course, is the real-world application of this principle. Forgiveness is easy to preach but hard to practice, especially when faced with deep hurts or persistent injustices. Yet, it is in these very situations that the power of prayer, fueled by forgiveness, reveals its true strength.

Word in Action

This week, identify someone whom you have struggled to forgive. It could be a minor annoyance or a significant hurt. Spend time in prayer, specifically asking God to help you release any bitterness and to fill your heart with His love and grace towards that person. Take an actionable step, if possible, to mend that relationship or to express forgiveness, either verbally or through a kind gesture.

Wonder in the Word

Reflect on a time when forgiving someone was particularly challenging for you. How did that unforgiveness affect your prayer life? What changes did you notice in your spiritual well-being after you chose to forgive?