Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses Mark 11:24-25
Have you noticed that most of the teaching on believing in advance to receiving is usually focused on getting something? My healing, my financial miracle, or career all crowd into my thoughts quite easily while forgiving someone who has hurt me remains far away. But Jesus time after time links faith, prayer and forgiveness. While God alone is in control of supplying our needs, we are the ones in control of those whom we forgive. This morning why not begin with three not so easy steps to forgiveness?
I don’t know about you but when I have allowed someone to get close to me and then discovered that I have been betrayed or used by that person, it is very hard to let go of their offense. God taught me a valuable lesson on this forgiveness a few years ago when I did some work for a man who didn’t pay his bill. Fall passed into winter and I hoped by Christmas that he would pay. After New Years had passed I thought that maybe with he would pay by spring. April came with still no check but in May I received a phone call from him apologizing and promising to pay. I was so happy that I also agreed to return to do another small job. After finishing that job and even another later on it began to be clear that I would probably never get paid. As time passed I complained to my family, then to my friends and then one day God showed me that I needed to forgive him. I was so ashamed as I realized that I had who had preached forgiveness had practiced forgiveness only in theory. In reality when I was the one who held the bill I was expecting payment in full. Slowly I began a process of forgiving which has led me to freedom and joy worth far more than the unpaid bill.
First I needed agree with God that I needed to forgive this person because it was His will. It wasn’t about whether I thought I should be paid. It didn’t even matter if the other man thought he needed to pay me. The only thing that really counted was knowing that God had freely forgiven me and that I was entrusted with the responsibility to forgive others.
Second I needed to believe in advance that he was forgiven! Jesus taught us that we need to begin forgiveness believing that the other person has already received it. This is like buying a Christmas present, wrapping it up and putting it under the tree. The person for whom we have purchased the gift may not have opened it yet but in our hearts they have already received it.
Last we need to delight in forgiveness. Our forgiveness is like having the power of presidential pardon. It doesn’t matter what the law says. It is immaterial what the witnesses have testified or what sentence the judge has handed down. As the chief executive of our soul we have the authority to grant forgiveness and then just like God has done with us, become friends with those we have forgiven!