Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, there has been a barrier between God and man. God forgave Adam and Eve for sinning; their sin was covered by the blood of a slain animal as He clothed them with its skin.
This was a foretelling of the blood of Jesus that would be shed to cover all our sins. There were severe consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience; hard labor for men and labor pains for women. But God forgave their sins. This leads us to the first aspect of forgiveness that affects our prayers.
If you have not repented for your sins nor accepted the free gift of salvation, which Jesus offered when He died on the cross, you have no relationship with God for powerful, effective prayer.
If you desire a powerful prayer life, you must first accept Jesus Christ into your heart as your Lord and Savior. Without a heart relationship with Christ as Lord of your life, your prayers will go unanswered.
That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness and with the mouth a person confesses, resulting in salvation. How then will they call on Him (God) in whom they have not believed?
—Romans 10:9–10, 142
To confess means to acknowledge our sinfulness and our need for the Savior. God wants us to have a repentant heart—a heart that desires to turn away from sin and live a life that is pleasing to Him. Having a powerful prayer life begins with a committed heart relationship with God, not just head knowledge. Even Satan and his demons believe in God. “…The demons also believe and shudder” (James 2:19).
Once our lives are covered by the blood of the cross, our sins are forgiven and we become children of God. We are promised an eternity in Heaven with Him, and on earth we receive 24-hour access to God through prayer.
We have a sinful nature. Even when we have accepted Christ as our Savior and have become a member of His family, we are still prone to sin. This inclination toward sin is something that we were born with because of Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden.
Yes, we are covered by the blood of Jesus, but our sinful nature still shows itself at times in our words, thoughts, and actions. We need to be aware that these sins can negatively affect our prayers. This takes us to the second aspect of forgiveness that can infuse power into our prayers.
As Christians, we must confess our sins to God to keep the lines of communication open. Nothing will derail your prayer life more quickly than unconfessed sin. God is holy, and for Him to hear our prayers, we must come to Him with a pure heart. This point is made crystal clear to us in the book of Isaiah.
Behold the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save nor is His ear so dull that He cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
Unconfessed sin separates us from God. He is a holy God and hates sin. So when we continue in habitual sin, our prayers are not heard by God.
Remember when you were on the playground as a kid and you got in a fight with a classmate? The teacher separated the two of you and made you apologize. This was followed by the soft whimper of, “I’m sorry.” You were not sorry for the fight; you were just sorry you got caught.
Here is an example from my childhood regarding the need for daily forgiveness. My mother, who is a terrific baker, had just pulled out some homemade chocolate chip cookies from the oven. She set them on a plate to cool. To avoid spoiling my appetite before dinner, she gave me only one cookie. I was instructed to wait for more until after dinner and not to touch them.
She went upstairs for a moment, but I stayed in the kitchen. The cookies were calling my name. I looked around and slowly approached the plate. I hurriedly shoveled a couple of the cookies into my mouth.
They were hot, delicious, and so good; but then my mother returned. She asked me if I had eaten any of the cookies. I looked up at her and softly replied that I hadn’t eaten any—not realizing the crumbs of evidence rested gently on the corners of my mouth. She asked me again, with the look that only mothers can give, and I ashamedly said, “Yes.”
Once I confessed my sins, my communication with my mother was unimpeded. She did not disown me or kick me out of the house. She forgave me for disobeying and then lying to her. (However, there were dire consequences to my bottom, and I never took a cookie without her permission again.)
Nothing damages your prayer life more than unconfessed sin. Confess, repent, and ask God for the strength to turn away from those sins.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from any unrighteousness.
—1 John 1:9
God is faithful in forgiving you; He sees the heart change and that you have turned away from your wrongdoings. This allows the communing with God to continue as you approach him with a clean heart.
This is not about doing Hail Marys or losing your salvation. This is about recognizing the sin in your life, confessing it to God, and turning away from it. These things are necessary to not only converse with God but ensure He hears you.
This brings us to the third aspect of forgiveness, a lack of which can cripple your prayer life. It lies dormant sometimes, and you may not even realize it is eating away at your heart and affecting your prayers to God.
Forgiveness of Each Other
Not forgiving others is stifling and detrimental to a powerful prayer life. If you are carrying resentment and bitterness because of unforgivingness in your heart, how can you expect God, who has forgiven you, to hear your prayers?
But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
It is so easy for us to harbor bitterness because of unforgivingness toward someone. Allowing bitterness to fester in our hearts instead of forgiving leads to resentment. Resentment turns into more bitterness, and before we realize it, the flesh has taken over. These negative feelings cloud our hearts and mind and prevent us from approaching God with a clean heart.
When you approach God in prayer, ask Him to search your heart and reveal to you any resentment or bitterness that results from unforgivingness. Ask His forgiveness, and forgive the individuals of the hurt they have caused you.
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in Heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in Heaven forgive your transgressions.
It is imperative to remember that God has forgiven us all our sins, and they are now covered in the blood of Jesus Christ. We must have a heart of forgiveness toward those who have hurt us so that we may approach God’s throne in prayer.
If you want God to hear and forgive you when you come to Him in prayer, you must first approach Him with a repentant heart.
Lord, I come to You with a contrite heart, thanking You for Your unconditional love and the forgiveness You freely offer when I come to You for forgiveness. May I always exemplify a forgiving love like Yours and seek You with a pure heart as I approach Your throne of grace. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.
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