And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him (Mark 11:25).

Praying is communicating with God. When we pray, we enter into a special place where we call unto God and receive from Him. Last week, our focus was on the fact that the Lord requires agreement in prayer. The agreement must be with His will. Today we will look at other requirements that the Lord makes very clear in His word.

Because He is a holy God, he requires of us thus: “who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 23:3-4). The only way to be made righteous is to receive Jesus into our hearts as our Savior. But what if a believer sins? Does sin hinder prayer? It absolutely does, but God, in His mercy, gives us a simple way to once again have clean hands and a right heart. 1 John 1:9 clearly explains, “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That cleansing is essential to pure, unhindered communication with God (also known as effective praying).

Another element essential to effective praying is forgiveness: “and whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses” (Mark 11:25). Forgiveness brings with it a washing away of destructive emotions and harmful mindsets that can create “static” in our communication with our Father God. Forgiving those who have wronged us is a way of demonstrating faith in God; it is a way of saying, “Lord, my times are in Your hands, and I believe that you will work all things together for my good” (Romans 8:28). Holding others in unforgiveness is absolutely destructive. People become bitter if they do not forgive those who have wronged them. If today you find yourself embittered because you believe you have been a victim, God requires that you release the offenders by forgiving them. Whether the offense happened today or forty years ago, you will be set free as you obey the Lord and forgive. As you forgive, a sweet anointing will flood your life, washing away the pain and toxic bitterness.

May your prayer life be established on the principles that God has laid before us, for such praying avails much (James 5:16).