I took the picture of this 'catcus heart' earlier this year... It came to mind as I was posting my notes from my pastor's sermon on unforgive-ness:
Something that can hinder our prayer life is unforgiveness. A spirit of unforgiveness can be damaging our prayer life. Before we come to Him with prayer requests, we need to first cleanse our hearts.
"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:9
Think of this verse as the believers ‘daily bar of soap’. Everyday we should do this because if we have anything we need to confess and examine our heart about, it restores our fellowship to God.
Some thoughts on unforgiveness-
1. Unforgiveness imprisons you in the past & keeps a wound current.
There is a place for talking through and processing hurt and pain... but there comes a point where you have to let it go. As humans, we can tend to re-live hurtful offenses; every time we do this though, it is embedding the pain and unforgiveness in your spirit again and again. When you are unforgiving...it is like sentencing yourself to feel ‘this bad’ forever, because it imprisons you in that past. We arent hurting the other person, nearly so much as we are hurting ourselves if we dont forgive.
2. Unforgiveness produces bitterness.
If you choose to re-live the painful memory over and over it can produce bitterness in your heart. Heb 12:15 "See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." When this happens, it keeps people from having the relationships they could have had.
3. Unforgiveness gives Satan an open door into your life.
One of the enemies favorite schemes is to birth a spirit of unforgiveness in us.
Eph 4:26-27 "In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."
II Cor 2:10-11 "If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven--if there was anything to forgive--I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes "
4. Unforgiveness hinders your fellowship with God
Matt 6:14-15 "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
Think about forgiveness – you can have forgiven someone for things long ago, but you may need to forgive them again. Why? If the hurt has been deep, times when we think of it again... or perhaps new offenses from that person can stir up feeling of unforgiveness in us. That is why Jesus said we must forgive 70x7. He understood our human condition and that we may need to forgive again and again. If someone has done you wrong, you need to let it go and lay it down as many times as necessary. It is healthy for you and for your relationship with God.
There may be old deep hurts that you have simply learned to live with; or maybe they are new ones. Lay it down, let it go, and leave it with God.
When you think of unforgiveness, are there people or situations that God brings to your mind? Remember I John 1:9,"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
Psalm 139:23-24 - "Search me, O God, and know my heart!Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting!"
After this, then make your requests to God.
No matter what you have lost or how you have been wronged, God will more than make it up to you, He is the same God who created the universe, He is more than able to do this!