8 Teachings of Jesus on Prayer — Teaching #8

Jesus taught that prayer must be with forgiveness (Matthew 5:23, 24; 6:14-15; Mark 11:25-26) 

In these passages Jesus seems to be teaching us that if we have not forgiven someone we may as well not pray at all.  Mark 11:26 says, “If you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Jesus is not saying here that if you don’t forgive others you have lost your salvation; but He is saying that in your unwillingness to forgive someone you have cut off your fellowship with God.  Why?  Because in your sin against others (in not forgiving them) you sin against God too.  Sin always separates us from God, and so this is why when we sin He will not regard our prayers (Ps. 66:18, Jn. 9:31).

Now we know that there are many different kinds of sin, and all of them, if unconfessed will separate us from God and will hinder our prayers.  So why does Jesus point out this particular sin of unforgiveness?  Well, I suggest that it is because this sin is perhaps the hardest to get rid of.  For this sin is not just with ourselves, it involves others.  So to get rid of it we must take steps toward others and with others to reconcile.  And the longer we wait the deeper the bitterness sets in, and so over time it becomes so so hard to be free of.  And Jesus knows this, and so this I think is why He has made a point of it here in these verses.  For He doesn’t want us to become bitter and therefore to be separated from Him.  He wants to be in continual fellowship with us and wants to hear our prayers.

I like what Paul said in Acts 24:16: “…I myself always strive to have a conscience void of offense toward God and men.”  Paul knew the value of having a clear conscience toward God and others and how it was so necessary for prayer.  Let us make that our goal too. 


About Stephen Nielsen

I'm an author, a self publisher, and a painting contractor. I live in beautiful Minnesota, USA . Welcome to my blog site.
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12 Responses to 8 Teachings of Jesus on Prayer — Teaching #8

  1. Loz says:

    Thank you for this series in prayer Stephen, such a timely blessing for me. I have a question for you, can anyone enter heaven without their sins been forgiven? Just say someone had unforgiveness in their heart towards someone and then dropped dead, would that person (for example a christian) be allowed in the presence of the Father with the ‘unrepented’ sin of unforgiveness towards another person or any other ‘unrepented’ known sin for that matter? Matthew 6:14-15 states, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”

    How I understand this is we’ve been forgiven so much, and not to forgive smacks of ‘the unmerciful servant’ parable Jesus gave in Matthew 18:21-35. With remnants of our ‘adamic’ nature it can be hard for us to forgive, but the Lord has given us a helper to prick our conscience, in order to make right the offense (as you stated about Paul in Acts 24:16). If we are totally honest with ourselves and with God and confess this sin of unforgiveness and ask the Lord for grace in this area (or any other area) He will be more than happy to assist us in lying the axe to the root of any bitterness or unforgiveness in our hearts. And as you mentioned we are to seek reconciliation – sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t – but at least we did our part in trying to offer the olive branch of peace.

    Here’s a link to a Zac Poonen sermon called ‘God Controls All People and Events’ I found this so comforting and I hope you will too:

    [audio src="http://www.cfcindia.net/tbsaudio/43_The_Abundant_Life/03_God_Controls_All_People_And_Events.mp3" /]

    • A Christian should always confess every known sin, because confession of our sins keeps us in fellowship with God and with our brothers, however, even if we fail to confess our sins before we die, we will still go to heaven, because the blood of Christ has paid for all our sins.
      Our entrance into heaven is based on our one-time belief in Him–giving our lives to Him, not our daily confession of sin. Our Christianity is based on what He did for us. He died on the cross and paid the penalty for our sins.

      Our regular confession of sins does not guarantee our salvation or keep us a Christian. If you are a Christian you will stay a Christian whether you choose to confess your sins or not. But why would any Christian choose to not confess his sins. A Christian with unconfessed sins is rebel and he is hurting himself.
      When you do not forgive another your heavenly father will not forgive you. This simply means that if we choose to break our fellowship with another person, we will also break our fellowship with God. Every time we sin against another person we also at the same time sin against God. However, there will be many time that we break our fellowship with God on this earth, but that still doesn’t have anything to do with our eternal salvation.

  2. Loz says:

    Thank you Stephen for clearing up this grey area 🙂

  3. Loz says:

    Hi Stephen I want to share one of the messages by Brother Zac Poonen that seems to be at odds with certain aspects of your statement, mainly this one “…even if we fail to confess our sins before we die, we will still go to heaven, because the blood of Christ has paid for all our sins.” (Hence my first post to you).

    Please, if you get time, as I can imagine your a busy man, can you listen to it and let me know your thoughts, as the conflicting messages could bring about confusion.

    Here’s the link, it’s called, A help-meet for Christ:

    [audio src="http://ia700508.us.archive.org/31/items/SERMONINDEX_SID18603/SID18603.mp3" /]


    • Sorry I was not able to find it. It you give me the scripture reference to his sermon I can find it that way.

    • I did not find the message you spoke about, but the problem may be this: there are many who do not believe in eternal security. But I do. I believe that once you are saved you are always saves. You can’t be unsaved. Once you are born again and brought into the family of God and you become a child of God, you cannot get out of the family of God. Once you have repented of your sins and you give your life to Christ and He gives you a new life in Christ, you cannot get out of it. You who are a Christian will always be a Christian, and you can have that assurance. In John 10: 27-28 Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” If you are one of His sheep then you have eternal life!!
      You may encounter trouble along the way, and you may even sin, but God still loves you as He loves any rebellious child. Our sin does not make us not a child of God. And if we should sin and then suddenly die without having opportunity to repent of that sin we will still be a child of God. My goodness, if it was the case that we had to confess every single sin before we could go to heaven, there would not be one person in heaven. We would all go to hell! But thank God that is not the case.
      John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave is only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
      Did you get that? Our eternal life does not depend on our ability to remember and confess every sin. It is dependent on our belief in Him. And if we believe in Him we will not perish but we have eternal life.

    • Just to be clear from my earlier comment, I did not mean that the blood of Christ has paid for everyone’s sin. His blood has paid only for us who are true believers. When a person repents of his sins and decides to give his life to Christ then the blood of Christ covers all his sins–past present and future sins. 1 Peter 2:24, “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins (the penalty of our sins was paid for), might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed.

      • Loz says:

        Thank you Stephen for making your stance clear and for taking the time to respond. You are correct in saying that you both have differing views on this subject. I have the sermon index link for Zac Poonen’s message, I had given you the audio direct which doesn’t seem to work, sorry:


        The message states that the “once saved, always saved” doctrine is false and misleading, quoting Jesus’s words in the sermon on the mount, Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” and Matthew 18:21-35, the unmerciful servant parable, in terms of unforgiveness towards someone.

        In other messages it’s quoted from various places in the bible where God said He will blot peoples names out of the book of life, people who had initially been in it:

        Psalm 69:2 May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.

        Revelation 22:19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

        Exodus 32:32-33 But now, please forgive their sin–but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” The LORD replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.”

        Revelation 3:5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.

      • I can see why you are so confused. The teaching you are getting is false. Let me explain each of these passages correctly.
        In the passage in the Sermon on the Mount, this has nothing to do with salvation. It has to do with God holding us responsible for our sin. So if we do not forgive another, God will hold us responsible and will not pardon us for our sin to another until we forgive that person.
        In Matthew 18:21-35, this parable teaches us about the compassionate forgiveness of God to a pleading sinner, and the justice of God against a cruel wicked man who was not a believer.
        As for being blotted out of my book in Exodus, this could mean physical death not spiritual death.
        In Psalm 69:28, this is a prayer of David against wicked men, again not believers.
        In Revelation 22:19, anyone who takes away from the Bible, this one would be wicked and not a believer.
        In Revelation 3:5, the one who overcomes is a true Christian. So here it tells plainly that God will not blot out his name from the book of life.
        If I were you I would not listen to Zac Poonen any longer. He does not have a correct knowledge of the scriptures. You would be wise to listen to someone else. There is plenty of heresy in his teaching (and I have been doing some reading on him. There is plenty of evidence to support this). John MacArthur is one of the best Bible teaches I know of. I would look to him instead. Also look to Ray Stedman, J. Vernon McGee, and Warren Wiersby (very good!). But please stay far away from Zac Poonen.

      • Loz says:

        Thank you once again for your time Stephen. All men (and women) are fallible beings, which include me, you, and John MacArthur whom you have recommended, who has serious negative connations against his name also. I have to repent of my own laziness and study the word of God a bit more for myself and rely on the Holy Spirit to give me revelation, instead of looking to be spoon fed by men.

        This has been a lesson for me, as the Lord has given us His Holy Spirit for a reason, and one of those is to teach us all things: John 14:26 “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you.”But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” I have God’s word and the Holy Spirit within; I will be relying on that and not men. Let God’s word be true and every man a liar (Romans 3:4). I will be praying also for discernment and spiritual wisdom from above, as never before is it needed than in this day and age, as there are so many wolves in sheep’s clothing and many who seek their own, while true men of faith are vilified. I need to look up, for there’s no confusion there!

      • I wish you well Loz, in your search for the truth. And my prayers are with you.

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