Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Prayer God Will Always Say Yes To (sixth in a series of ten)

Everyone knows God forgives sins, and anybody who has spent any time in a church will have heard something about Jesus dying for us.

In fact, the way the Bible tells it, it is ridiculously easy to be forgiven. This is what Christianity is. It’s the reason for the cross and the resurrection. It’s why we have a Bible at all. To tell the story of God’s forgiveness and restoration the people He loves.

All you have to do is ask. Admit that you need forgiveness, and honestly want to try and not sin in that way again. But have you ever wondered if you are such a terrible person that God could simply not forgive you? Doesn’t God get tired of forgiving the same sins after awhile? Does He ever get disgusted and throw up His hands, like people do? Do we have the ability to disappointment Him?

The fact is God wants to forgive you more than anything, He’s looking for every possible reason to forgive you.

The key concept here is what’s going on in your heart. God knows how weak we are. We fall constantly. Some people commit the same sin over and over again their whole lives long. God knows that. He’s been watching people commit these sins for thousands of years. It’s not that He’s grown used to it, but He’s not surprised in any way when He sees you and me falling again and again.

If there’s a particular sin you’re having trouble with, and you commit it constantly and you feel bad about it constantly too, you’re probably having serious doubts about your ability to overcome it. You may feel, deep down, that the situation is hopeless. But don’t let that stop you from repenting and asking for forgiveness. It’s true that you can’t ask God for forgiveness while at the same time secretly cherishing that sin. You can’t ask for forgiveness if you’re not really sorry, that’s presuming on God. But if you’re very weak, and all you have is a desire to get out of this loop, that’s enough for God.

God also wants you and me to have the same forgiving attitude towards others, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” God will use with you the same measure of mercy you use with others.

Now if you’re the type of person who gets easily disgusted, or you are a critical person, or you tend to hold a grudge, then now is the time to repent of that. Maybe there are some things you just can’t bring yourself to forgive. Okay, start small. Ask God to help you forgive the person who cuts you off on the freeway. Ask God to help you forgive the person who brushes past you in the grocery store. The important thing is to develop a habit of forgiveness in these small ways, so you will become strong in faith to be able handling forgiveness of the big things.

If being forgiven is so easy, why don’t you and I go to God more often in confession? Well, sometimes it feels too easy, and it’s hard to believe He’ll forgive us. But more often, you and I are afraid to confront the sinful things in our lives because we think it’s going to bring even more grief, sorrow and guilt. People do almost anything to avoid pain, don’t we? So every time we identify something in ourselves that might bring us pain, we work hard at trying to pretend it isn’t there, or to cover it up, or to disguise it.

But the long term suffering that comes from stuffing all that down is far worse, in the end, than the pain of confronting it. That pain will always be manageable, because God will be there with you. In fact, in the end, it won’t feel like pain at all, it will feel like release, being set free.

There is great power in the words “God, please forgive me.” Not only will He forgive you, but He will clean out the wound, He will begin to heal you, and He will fill you with His own good, clean life. You may still have the consequences of the sin to deal with, but now you will also have the mighty power of God’s Spirit within you, to enable you.


These thoughts on prayer are taken from the Catholic author Anthony DeStefano's delightful book, "Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers To Life's Most Difficult Problems."

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