Matthew 6:5-15 — Prayer Life, Marriage — Forgiveness is Essential in Both; Check Your Ego at The Door!

Posted: October 21, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew

Our prayer life is like a marriage. It is ironic that this thought comes to mind when we are about to start a sermon series on marriage at church this Sunday. Our prayer life can be like a marriage. When prayer is intimate, our relationship with God grows and deepens. When we are attentive to God through prayer, our relationship seems so much more in-tune and He seems so much more real to us. Marriages are the same way. When we harbor anger and resentment toward others for wrongs they have done to us, our relationship with God suffers. Our prayer life suffers. We allow something to get in the way of our relationship with God when we harbor resentments toward others. It is the same in marriage. When we fail to forgive, the wrong becomes more important than the relationship.

Today, we conclude our review of Matthew 6:5-15. Yesterday, we finished our review of Jesus’ instruction on prayer in Matthew 6:8-13. After completing the instruction on how to pray to God, Jesus, then says, 14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Jesus is not saying that God’s forgiveness of our sins is contingent upon our forgiving those who have sinned against us, but He is saying that our intimacy with God can be clouded and even damaged by our lack of forgiveness for others. So, the things that we will talk about today are that forgiveness requires humility and that forgiveness is the key to deepening our relationship with God.

Forgiveness requires humility. Prayer requires humility. When our prayer life grows and matures is when we finally get it that God is God and we are but mere humans. Sometimes our prayers are as if God is working for us and not the other way around. We pray as if He is there to serve us rather than the other way around. Aren’t our marriages like this as well? Many of us marry because we think our spouse is there to meet our needs. We think that the marriage is all about us and getting our needs met. We get angry with our spouse when they have that funny thing of wanting to have their needs met also. I don’t know why spouses are like that! LOL! However, when we make our marriages bigger than us as the individual husbands and wives in the marriage, it becomes a more intimate relationship. It becomes a deeper relationship. It becomes a more effective relationship. In order to make our marriages work, we must humble ourselves to our marriage. We must make the relationship greater than ourselves. When we learn humility, that our needs are not the only thing, we can find freedom in meeting the needs of others. When we put the survival of our marriages over the needs of our ego, our marriages all of sudden become awesome. When we are selfish and only see the marriage through that lens, our marriages suffer. When we are humble enough to realize that our spouse is only human and will make mistakes and that they have rights in the marriage too, forgiveness will come. It is the same with our prayer life. We must see God as the greater one than us just as we should see our marriages as greater than ourselves. Humility leads us to seeing God as greater than ourselves. With God on top, it makes it easier to see that we are messed up people needing forgiveness. When we see ourselves as messed up and unperfect then it becomes easier to see the rest of the messed up people in the world as just like us. Without pride, we can ask for forgiveness and be forgiving. We have no agenda of our own anymore. Pride has been the ruin of many a marriage. Pride is the ruin of our prayer life. Humility is required for an effective prayer life. We must recognize that God is not there to serve us. We are there to serve Him. When we finally get that, our prayer life has the proper order – God first, me second – then it is funny. It spills over into the rest of our life. When we learn that we are not the center of the universe and that God is, it improves our prayer life. It improves our relationship with God altogether. It improves our relationship with others. Just as when we make our marriages bigger than ourselves, it is amazing that we get more fulfillment from the relationship than we ever have. Our relationship with God is vastly improved when we see that He is greater than we and that starts in our prayer life.

Forgiving others requires that we lose our pride. We must have a heart that is not demanding compensation for wrongs. We always want payback that never comes when we have pride. Forgiveness comes from a place where we no longer seeing ourselves as the central figure in this play called life. How can we have an effective relationship with God if we cannot forgive others? God could be like we are sometimes when we refuse to forgive others. He could be so offended by the actions of humans that He permanently crosses us off His list. He could be like us in that He drops us like we’re hot. He could be like us and has nothing more to do with us. He could just condemn us to hell the first time we sin and be done with us. However, God is patient with us. God is kind to us. He went so far as to send His Son to us, to die on a cross as a sacrifice for our sins, so that we could be restored to a right relationship with Him. He does not write us off. He went out of His way to save us, to redeem us, to restore the relationship. God could be prideful and forget about us, write us off, dump us, ashcan our relationship. He didn’t do that though. He let his love for us be greater than our offenses against Him. Yet, we cannot forgive others. God did it for us. Why cannot we be that way with others. Love is greater than pride. Pride destroys and consumes til there is nothing left. Love redeems. Love survives. Love requires the loss of pride and gaining of humility. Our marriages are greatest when we can forgive and strengthen. Our prayer life is greatest when we see God as greater than ourselves. That loss of pride in prayer leads us to humility. Humility leads us to forgiveness. Forgiveness leads to restoration. Forgiveness leads to better relationships. When we lose our pride, we have better relationships with others and with God. It all starts with learning our proper relationship with God in prayer.

Thus, here we stand right. Is it not ironic that God put it on my heart that prayer and marriage are similar? All the ways that we must approach God through our marriage to him which is exemplified by prayer are the ways that we should be in our marriages to our wives or husbands (or even, if not married, with our significant other). So, prayer is intimacy with God just as earthly marriages are intimacy with our spouse. If we neglect our marriage to our spouse, treat our marriage as secondary to our personal needs, they fail. If we neglect our prayer life, our marriage to God fails. And, through Jesus’s instructions, we find out how we are to love on God. This was eye-opening for me. Prayers are not just some rote thing we do. It is how we show our love to the Maker of All Things. Jesus shows us what it is and how to do it. Its’ right there and if we are really in love with God like we all claim, then man, why aren’t we loving him the way he deserves. He deserves our prayers. He deserves our placing Him above our needs. We must pray to Him as if He is the greatest thing there is – because He is! All day. Every day.

God, here I am! I love you sooooo sooooo much! Just a quick love note to you! Just quick little prayer! Amen and Amen!

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