- LogosWalk Word Journal - http://logoswalk.com/journal -

Mark 11:25-26 • Rehearsal for the Real Thing

"'Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.'"
    —Mark 11:25-26 (NASB)

It is important to note that the phrase "stand praying" refers to someone who, having observed the Old Testament guidelines for offerings and worship, is most likely engaging in prayer in the temple or synagogue along with everyone else. It identifies the final thing one did after going through the rigorous process of making atonement for one's own sin by traveling to the temple and making a sacrifice, and now engaging God in prayer to wrap everything up. Having achieved the requirements to obtain personal forgiveness, the experience of God's grace is supposed to make one want to personally extend that grace to others. The true receipt of forgiveness is supposed to engender the desire to pass along forgiveness.

If you think about it, this is an ultimate expression of what it means to "love your neighbor". (Mark 12:33) What God has wrought by His grace for us personally becomes something a truly loving heart wants to pass along to others, even those "you have anything against". But in this context it is especially noteworthy that Jesus is not talking about those times when we are physically interacting with our neighbor, but as an act of personal worship. Perhaps it is so difficult for us to actually forgive because we have not begun the process in the right place: our personal prayer and worship.

I would love to be able to state that this is a regular, personal practice I have adopted, but that would be far from the truth. Of all the items I take before God, and in terms of the mechanics of my personal prayer and worship, very little mention is ever made of passing the forgiveness God has graciously granted me to those from whom I so readily withhold it. I pray for myself and my needs and perhaps even spend some time petitioning for the needs of others whom I like or are close to me, but mediating forgiveness for those committing transgressions against me personally?

So the greater application here is that if I begin to love others by invoking my forgiveness of them as part of my active prayer life, I will probably be much better equipped to actually follow through forgiving and loving them when the opportunity arises when our paths do cross in life. Having "rehearsed" things, so to speak, I will be prepared for the real thing. Having practiced love in my personal relationship with Christ, it will have a better chance of transforming my earthly relationships.