HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
Another vital key to answered prayer is our willingness to truly forgive others. Frankly, our loving Father in heaven simply does not hear those who come to Him in a spirit of revenge, bitterness or hatred. Immediately after giving us the “Lord’s Prayer”—the outline prayer describing the proper basic approach to talking with God—Jesus went on to instruct His followers: “If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15).
To sulk, to brood, to conjure up evil thoughts about another person—or to attribute improper motives to someone who has upset you—is not just wrong; it is counterproductive. It only breeds more trouble and more discontent. Such an attitude will escalate a situation, not resolve it.
How did the Apostle Paul advise us to treat our enemies? “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. Therefore, ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:17–21).
The prophet Isaiah was inspired to warn us not to come into God’s presence while oppressing others, accusing others or being wrapped up in serving only the self. He wrote: “If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness” (Isaiah 58:9–10).
Jesus gives us the same admonition: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar; and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23–24).
So we need to come to God in a humble, repentant and forgiving attitude. Otherwise, as Jesus said, God will not forgive us! A spirit of humility and mercy is a key element in whether or not God will hear us as we pray. His inspired Word tells us: “But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).