Summary: Excerpt from the book, Living Forgiven
In order to accomplish the divine command to forgive one another, you must first learn to live your life in prayer and intercession as Jesus commanded:
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you that you may be sons of your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:44)
Forgiveness will flow freely to a cold world only from a heart that is warmed by God’s love. Praying for those who have hurt you proves that you are a child of God and that God’s love is in you. When you pray for others, you become a conduit of God’s love. His love flows through you to those for whom you are praying.
Prayer is the dynamic that gives you the ability to do those things you know you cannot do on your own. It is a spiritual umbilical cord to your heavenly Father! It is an act of worship, the communion of your soul with God. It is your spirit working with the Holy Spirit to make changes and fine-tune those changes so that you might "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18)
Prayer is a personal experience, not a philosophy or a theology. It is to be your transcendent venture of faith and your steadfast response to the hand of God in your life-the only way to adjust to God’s plans for you.
When you pray, you are recognizing the Lord’s magnificent grace. King David wrote, "I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day will I praise you and extol your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom." (Psalm 145:1-3 NKJ)
In prayer you should also acknowledge that God is the source of all blessings. "Every good perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights." (James 1:17 NKJ) Prayer becomes the expression of your indebtedness to God for His goodness to you.
As you grow in grace and nearness to the Lord, your sensitivity to sin increases. You will see your own unworthiness in the contrast between your life and the absolute righteousness of God. Because sin is ultimately committed against the Creator, there can be neither peace nor power in your life until you offer prayers of repentance. Even then the picture is not complete, for along with confession there must be the drive to mend your mistakes by forgiving and reconciling with others so that you will root your will in His will and way of life.
Jesus taught us to pray, "Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12 NKJ)
When you pray, as Jesus taught, "Give us today our daily bread" (Matthew 6:11 NKJ), you are petitioning for your own needs. You should always ask of the Father "and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7)
However, when you do petition for your own needs, your asking should always be superseded by the giving of thanks, confession of your sins, and intercession for your neighbors. Then your prayers will flow unhindered.
Your petitioning should be continually growing in grace. The highest type of prayer is one in which you forget yourself and intercede on behalf of others. If you follow Jesus’ example of selfless intercessory prayer as found in John 17, you will find yourself in the deepest communion with God.
Because prayer is communion with God, there are no "unanswered" prayers. The fact that you, as the created, have communion with the Creator is in itself an answer. When most people speak of unanswered prayer, they tend to think only of those things they asked for and did not receive. Not receiving something is just as much an answer as receiving it. Unfortunately, too many can’t accept "no" for an answer.
You may ask the Lord for things which He, according to His infinite wisdom, knows you should not have. Jesus taught, "How much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?" (Matthew 7:11)
Your heavenly Father not only knows what is best for you to receive, but also what you should not receive. God always answers your prayers, not as you have specifically "directed" Him, but in ways that will most magnify His name and advance His kingdom.
I mentioned in an earlier chapter that the Apostle Paul once pleaded with God to deliver him from "the thorn in the flesh" given that he might not become proud.
He wrote, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians. 12:8-9) The Lord refused his request, but gave him an abundance of grace which brought more glory to the kingdom and to His name than would have occurred if Paul’s prayer had been answered.