“On Your Mark”
The Fruit of Forgiveness (Chapter 11 Verses 20-26)
The Lord now personalises it with “I say unto ‘you” (v24). He, Jesus, actually says it, believe, as you go on praying that you already have it, and it will be done. It is the same assurance of the previous verse (v23). How we need to be constantly reminded of this teaching. We so often begin to think in our hearts what is the use of praying? Well turn to Hebrews (Hebrews 11), and see there what faith worked in many people’s lives, justification, deliverance, fruitfulness, perseverance, victory over enemies, courage and strength, even resurrection from the dead. And what is prayer but faith in action? Well has God somehow diminished? Has his power waned? Have his promises been abrogated? Has this one been scored through? Am I to extract it from my Bible? Just because you have heard some exaggerated and even false claims today by some wild enthusiasts does not mean that they are all false. God still works in mighty power in answer to believing prayer. There is more worked in this world by prayer than you or I would ever dream of or think possible. The Jews thought God was no longer able to save, to deliver them (Isaiah 59:1), but the prophet answered them, no, that is not the problem, God’s power is the same, his arm is not shortened that it cannot save. The problem? Your iniquities (Isaiah 59:2), that is why he does not hear you.
But there are things that block our prayers (v25 & perhaps v26). We must not delude ourselves into thinking that we are believing, that we are issuing the prayer of faith whilst we secretly hold something against someone. You know how God forgives your sins? By removing them as far away from you as possible (Psalm 103.11-13), by blotting them out and remembering them no more (Jeremiah 31.34)? Well, that is how you are to forgive those who have wronged you, that is, if you want God to forgive you and answer your prayers. Take note of the anything and anyone. That is Christian or otherwise. It does not mean that we are not to say anything, we are taught by Jesus how to deal with what we deem to be sin (Matthew 18.15f), but before we follow that advice we need be sure we have a clean and forgiving heart, whatever the attitude of the other party. The withering tree of Judaism knew no such fruitfulness, and just as Jesus cursed that tree from the roots that day, so too the Christ-rejecting, obdurate Israel stands under the same curse (Isaiah 63.7; 64.12). The miracle of the withering tree is a revelation of God’s dreadful, deadly and irrevocable, divine judgment. That judgment had not yet come (John 3.17), but as sure as apples is apples, Jesus says it is coming (John 5.27; Matthew 3.10; Acts 17.30-31).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)