Jesus used the example of a withering fig tree to teach about praying in faith. In the process, he also expressed that praying requires forgiving.
Verse 25 notes, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew reflects this same instruction. Jesus tells us to pray. He also tells us that to pray his way, we must forgive those who have hurt us.
This is often neglected in modern books and messages on prayer. Prayer is typically about connecting with God, worship, and, of course, asking for what you want, whether Uncle Joe’s broken toe or losing ten pounds next month.
But to Jesus, to pray with an unforgiving heart is inconsistent and unhealthy. We are called to let go of the hurts others have caused to us. Only then can we fully focus on the life God has called us to live.
We’re not commanded to forget, but we are commanded to forgive.
Only then are we praying the way Jesus taught.
Praying requires forgiving.
Dillon Burroughs has written, co-written, or edited over 60 books, including the upcoming devotional work Thirst No More (October 2011). He served as an associate editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Find out more at DillonBurroughs.org.