Offenses hinder prayer

Unresolved Offenses Hinder Prayer

“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
Psalm 119:165

“Harboring unforgiveness, resentment or bitterness is like swallowing poison and hoping the other guy dies.”

One night as I was praying for faithful people still struggling with health or family problems, I was wondering (asking the Lord), why haven’t they been healed yet, or had a positive breakthrough in their families?

I knew the usual reasons – weak or wobbly faith, unbelief, doubt, fear, and overt or covert sin being the primary ones. None of those seemed to apply here.

Were positive answers in the will of God? Yes, I am certain they are. Are the hindrances in me? In the needy person? Or both? So I kept on praying, meditating, and asking the Lord to show me the reasons.

“Offenses,” the Holy Spirit said.

The Greek word for offense is skandalon:

(1) A trap or snare. A hunter may use one, and we know an enemy who is hunting, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
(2) Any impediment placed in the way and causing one to stumble or fall, (a stumbling block, occasion of stumbling) i.e. a rock which is a cause of stumbling.

Jesus called Peter an offense to him, because Peter’s ideas of what Messiah should be and do were so different from what Jesus was describing. (Matthew 16:21-23.)

The Lord began showing me a list of specific, hurtful, offensive things that had happened in the past, either to me, or by me, or in the life of the people I’ve been praying for. No matter whose life they had affected, our prayers were being hindered.

Some of these offenses had been dealt with in the past, supposedly, but “reminders” would pop up now and then and an old hurt would be felt again, memories still buried deep in the brain’s memory banks. The list included the following:

    • Unforgiveness on your part, no matter how horribly bad the other person’s acts or words were, no matter how strongly you feel that they don’t deserve forgiveness.
    • Unforgiveness from someone else towards you, whether you did anything wrong or not, not resolved by explanations or apologies.
    • Memories of personal attacks, bad actions or words spoken against you and perhaps to you in the past.
    • Resentment of other people’s bad behaviors or words to you, or about you to other people.
    • Bitterness about being mistreated unfairly, whether it was deliberate or not.
    • Being taken for granted; made to feel “put upon,” misused, given more responsibilities or burdens than others who should be helping but aren’t.
    • Selfish pride, ego.
    • Misunderstandings, no matter whose side it started on, never straightened out.
    • Being robbed or abused, physically, materially, emotionally or socially.
    • Jealousy, on your part or against you on someone else’s part, deserved or undeserved. This is different from godly envy.
    • Unresolved anger, sadness or grief at being misunderstood, mistreated, cheated, i.e. sinned against.
    • Suspicion – not spiritual discernment – of someone’s motives, finding fault with them without a real cause. Avoiding them because of this.
    • Not praying for your enemies, or for your “frenemies,” because you don’t feel you can do it in faith so why bother to do it at all.
    • Believing you can’t do it, whatever it is, because you’re not good enough, clean enough, anointed enough, educated enough, trusted enough, whatever, thus you don’t even attempt, because you just know you’d fail.
    • Not using the authority of the believer given to you by God; not exercising the power of the Holy Spirit as He directs.
    • Believing a lie from the enemy – this affliction must be God’s will.
    • Fear of being ridiculed or losing something important – a relationship, reputation, position, etc.
    • An important one – underestimating the limitless grace of God.

There may be others. One thing they all have in common: They are triggered by words. Negative words. Some are whispered words from the enemy, not your own voice but masquerading as yours. All that brought up an important question:

How do these offenses hinder our prayers?

“They are spiritual leeches,” the Lord said. And then he showed me what they do in the natural – leeches, and ticks, and fleas. Here’s what I learned:

Leeches, ticks and fleas:

    • As leeches bite, they inject anesthetic, so you don’t even know what they are doing to you. Then they begin sucking blood out of you, little by little (remember, life is in the blood, and with it strength, energy, faith, confidence, assurance, all spiritual abilities, including discernment of what the enemy is doing.) They also can inject diseases, viral and bacterial, diseases which can kill you if not detected and treated, such as HIV, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and others.
    • Ticks also inject saliva which exhibits cytolytic, vasodilator, anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, and immunosuppressive activity. Many species can transmit diseases to animals and people, such as Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and tularemia.
    • Fleas likewise inject saliva which contains anticoagulants to keep the blood flowing and an enzyme to keep blood from clotting at the wound site. Fleas also carry diseases that can be transmitted through bites, such as flea-borne spotted fever, plague, typhus, and cat scratch fever.

All that was eye-opening and disturbing, to say the least. They are draining our faith, confidence, assurance, peace of mind, leaving uneasiness, being unsettled mentally, emotionally or spiritually, and resulting in unanswered prayers. My next question was,

How can we deal with such offenses?

His reply was just one word: FORGIVENESS. He reminded me that forgiveness is not a feeling. It is a decision – and an excellent spiritual disinfectant and “pest control.”

Let’s get practical:

  1. Ask the Lord to reveal specific things, then deal with each one as they come to mind.
  2. Forgive others, forgive yourselves, ask forgiveness where needed if still possible, and if not extended or not possible, forgive them for NOT forgiving you.
  3. Refuse to harbor bitterness, resentment or grudges. Repentance is a good remedy for those. If a thought, image or feeling about a past offense arises again, (remember, Satan is the father is lies, deception, illusions, delusions), deliberately visualize yourself kicking that things right off a cliff to its demise.
  4. As often as you need to, deliberately do this again, reminding the enemy that it has been dealt with. Any remembrance of it that he brings up is another lie.
  5. Replace it with spiritual memories, God’s word, His promise of life, healing, health and wholeness to you. Personal answered prayers in the past, testimonies of others’ answered prayers.
  6. Use scriptural reminders regarding forgiveness; look verses up, write them down, read them to yourself and remind the Liar in Chief of them often. He loves to interfere with our prayers; don’t let him get away with it.
  7. And keep “short accounts,” that is, deal with anything offensive as it occurs; don’t put it off.

Offer Father God praise, worship, and thanksgiving, even when you don’t feel like it. He is worthy!

Forgiveness, the most powerful weapon

Two scripture passages keep coming to mind today:

  • First, Jesus’ words on the cross, “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” [Luke 23:34 KJV].
  • Secondly, Stephen’s words as he was dying, “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” [Acts 7:60 KJV]

Forgiveness is the most powerful weapon there is.  Multitudes soon received that forgiveness and were born again. A coincidence? I don’t really think so.

Did you ever wonder why those statements were both spoken ALOUD? And heard and recorded by those who heard them?

Jesus taught us how to deal with enemies. Love them. Pray for them. Do good to them. Ask God for mercy for them. (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-37)

It has bothered me greatly these last several years to read on social media Christians cursing (in words or attitudes) so many people they don’t like in politics (both parties). Jesus paid a tremendous price for the souls of those people!

Please read this article from Intercessors for America when you get a few minutes. I have been a supporter and subscriber to IFA for many years; this particular article seemed extremely timely when I read it this morning.

https://ifapray.org/blog/a-prophetic-word-for-the-unmasking-of-the-cover-up/

 

Justice? I just don’t get it…

The Equalizer

“Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer!”

Leverage

“The rich and powerful take what they want. We steal it back for you.”

The Shadow

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

Superman

“The never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.”

Underdog

“Never fear, Underdog is here!”

Even Underdog! Then there’s the Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, Green Hornet, Red Rider, Zorro… not to mention my all-time favorite, the A-Team.

What do all these have in common? The demand for justice. Fairness. “What’s fair is fair.” Because people know what is right, what is fair, what is equitable.

From the very beginning, they knew that some things were wrong. Like killing, stealing, lying, destroying.

How did they know? They were created to know, and they were given to know. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8)

Along the way (beginning in the Garden), God’s definitions of right and wrong were questioned, then perverted by some. And people still cry out for justice, as they have from the beginning. God himself said that Abel’s blood cried out from the ground (Genesis 4:10). The perversion of justice demanded a penalty – death. (Genesis 2:17, Romans 6:23)

The oldest of civilizations devised codes of laws and systems of justice, attempting to get back to the beginning, to the Garden, perhaps.

Back in the 1980’s when Tim and I first got involved in politics, an irate woman shouted at us in a meeting, “You can’t legislate morality!” She was angry at our stances on various issues. Especially our pro-life stances. (We were actively, vocally opposed to removing the pro-life plank from the state and national Republican Party platforms.)

“Sure you can,” I answered, when I could get a word in. “That’s what legislation does.The question is, whose morality are you going to legislate?” I may not have persuaded her that day, but I hope she thought more about my question. Whose morality? Whose justice?

In the scriptures, the words justice and righteousness come from the same root word. Justice is a principle and a system of right and wrong as defined by the Creator. Righteousness is a state of being right in God’s eyes, in his opinion.

God gets to define “right,” and he gets to decide who is right. (When the word is translated justice, another word – judgment – is often found in that verse, meaning the decision and legal declaration of justice.)

Is justice always doing the right thing, never doing the wrong thing? But I couldn’t live up to that standard, no matter how hard I tried. So then, what is justice, to God? What is righteousness?

“Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3) Hebrews 11 lists the “Heroes of Faith,” men and women who believed what God said to them and thus were considered righteous by God.

Now, I believe, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Cor. 5:21). Jesus took the penalty of sin, instead of me.

Consider:

  • Having their conscience seared as with a hot iron – I Timothy 4:2
  • Having their senses exercised to discern good and evil – Hebrews 5:14
  • Let justice roll – Amos 5:24
  • There is none good but God – Matthew 19:17
  • There is none righteous – Romans 3:10
  • Vengeance is mine, I will repay, said the Lord – Romans 12:19.

And he did. Jesus got the penalty in my place, satisfied God’s requirements of justice, and I get his grace instead.