1 July 2014 by Michael Cheng –
As we continue in our prayer, we need to ask God to forgive all our sins, thus the letter ‘R’ in the acrostic PRAYER, which refers to Repentance.
If there are hurtful wounds from the past in you, allow the Lord to heal you as you forgive and receive forgiveness and healing.
If you find it hard to hear from God, ask Him to show blockages or walks in your own life that are hindering you from receiving and giving to the Lord.
To ensure the effectiveness of our prayer, we must keep short accounts with God. Before proceeding further, sin must be confessed and or forsaken as soon as we are aware that it has entered into our lives.
Psalm 66:18 tells us when our prayers will not be answered, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”
Repentance includes seeking God’s forgiveness for our sins and iniquities which hinder God from listening and answering our prayers.
Nothing hinders prayers like an unconfessed sin and an unrepentant heart, which separate us from the Holy and Righteous God.
Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
When we come into the Lord’s presence and seek His face, we need to ask Him to search our heart and reveal to us any sin (known or unknown) that we need to repent of. That includes the sin of commission or omission, wrong or impure motivation, attitudes, thoughts, desires, anger, resentment, and bitterness. We need to confess each of these sins and release them to the Lord.
Just like taking a shower every day, we need to be cleaned by His Word and confess our sins daily. When we do that, we are assured of forgiveness from God according to 1 John 1:8-9:
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
The list of sins to repent is very long but I will list only seven of the common ones below:
1. Lack of Faith in God
This is characterized by fear, anxiety, doubt, unbelief, which is the opposite of faith. Jesus reprimanded His disciples for their lack of faith. One of them is found in Matt 8:26.
He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. (Matt 8:26)
The exhortation Fear Not appeared at least 365 times in the Bible, one for each day of the year!
Anxiety and Worry about the future can bog us down and render us helpless and hopeless. 23 succumb to perpetual worrying that we cannot experience God’s peace and joy, have sleepless nights, and may even become nervous wrecks.
That is why Paul instructed us, “6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil 4:6)
Doubt is not believing in the promises of God. The Bible says:
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:6-7)
Matt 13:58 says that Jesus did not do many mighty works in his hometown because of the people’s unbelief.
Unbelief is the inability to believe that God will and can help us. If we have difficulty believing in God, we can always ask God help us with our unbelief. (Mark 9:23-24) Be honest with Him and pray the same prayer. God will help us grow our faith from ‘little faith’ to ‘great faith’ and finally ‘mountain-moving faith.’
This is worshipping anything that takes the place of God, whether tangible idols or intangible form of pursuits that are so engrossing that we give them our complete and full-hearted attention, time, and energies to the exclusion of worshipping god.
You shall have no other gods before me.“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exo 20:3-6)
When we refuse to forgive people who have hurt us and persist to hold a grudge against them, we are disobeying God’s command in Col 3:13:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col 3:13)
It is also a condition for us to receive forgiveness from God.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt 6:14-15)
But how do we forgive if we don’t feel like it? I have personally struggled but God has revealed to me that forgiveness must be an act of the will, a decision to forgive, by faith, out of obedience to God’s Will, simply because it’s against our nature to forgive.
When we choose to forgive, we can be set free from being held captive and imprisoned by negative and destructive emotions of anger, resentment, bitterness, and hatred.
4. Greed and Covetousness
We are guilty of these sins when we compare ourselves with others, dwelling on their achievements and possession, and then no longer treasuring whatever we ourselves have been blessed with.
This eventually leads to ingratitude, a spirit of covetousness, and unending envy of others who have more than us.
Hebrews 13:15 exhorts us to, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15)
The Ten Commandments also warn against covetousness. (Exo 20:17)
5. Lying, Slander, and Bearing False Witness
These sins are serious because they can cause great damage to relationships, careers, business entities, and to the Body of Christ. These are the sins that can lead to eternal hell fire if we persist in them as we know this sin originated from Satan, the Father of Lies.
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
Satan was cast down from Heaven because he was trying to create havoc on earth by spreading lies and deception, like what he did through the serpent in the Garden of Eden. This sin brings disunity, disrepute, and harm of Christ. We must be wary of his devices. (2 Cor 2:11)
In fact, lying is one of the six things that the Lord hates. (Prov 6:16-19)
Sometimes, we tend to justify lying by saying it’s a white lie, which is acceptable when no one is hurt. But in God’s sight, a lie is a lie no matter what color it.
6. Sexual Sins
These sins include adultery, fornication, lust, lewd thoughts, pornography, and homosexuality. (Gal 5:16-19)
Actual physical adultery may not be that common but we can still be guilty when we desire another person who is not our spouse, thereby disobeying Christ’s command to avoid the sin of lusting after another with impure intent.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matt 5:27-28)
7. Pride and Self-importance
This sin is the love and craving for power, position, honor, applause, and self-glory, attitudes which are the opposite of humility.
Generally, we are guilty of pride when we bask in self-glory instead of giving the credit and glory to God who has blessed us with good gifts and empowered us to do great things.
God opposes the proud. (1 Peter 5:5)
In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5)
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov 16:18)
Those who are proud are even described as wicked because they have no room in their heart for God. (Psalm 10:4)
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. (Psalm 10:4)
A proud person is the last person to seek God because his pride prevents him from admitting his guilt and confessing his sins before God. Like the Pharisees in the Bible, they adopt a self-righteous attitude that sees no need of forgiveness of God.
But when we repent and humble ourselves, we please God who will forgive us, cleanse us and heal our land.
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgivetheir sin and will heal their land. (2 Chro 7:14)
In summary, the second element in our prayer is Repentance. When we come to God in prayer, we need to come under the search light of our God. Our repentance for sins pleases God and He will forgive us, cleanse us of all unrighteousness, and answer our prayers.
The Bible tells us that God hears the prayer of the righteous.
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)
Note: This reflection is an excerpt taken from the book ‘Man of the Hour’ written by Michael Cheng. Michael has held various management positions in the banking, educational, manufacturing sectors. He is a Founding Member and former National Secretary of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship Malaysia (FGBMF). Michael has also held various leadership positions in the local church and Christian ministries. Currently, Michael coordinates the Prayer Shield in FGBMF. He holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Economics (Honors) degree and is a Certified Trainer. Michael is married to Kim and they worship in Full Gospel Assembly, Kuala Lumpur.
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