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Chapter 23—Prayer for Forgiveness

The Prayer for Forgiveness Is Always Answered Immediately—When we pray for earthly blessings, the answer to our prayer may be delayed, or God may give us something other than we ask, but not so when we ask for deliverance from sin. It is His will to cleanse us from sin, to make us His children, and to enable us to live a holy life. Christ “gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Galatians 1:4. And “this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us: and if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.” 1 John 5:14, 15. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9.—(The Desire of Ages, 266.)

No sooner does the child of God approach the mercy seat than he becomes the client of the great Advocate. At his first utterance of penitence and appeal for pardon Christ espouses his case and makes it His own, presenting the supplication before His Father as His own request.—(Testimonies for the Church 6:364.)

Tell Jesus your wants in the sincerity of your soul. You are not required to hold a long controversy with, or preach a sermon to, God, but with a heart of sorrow for your sins, say, “Save me, Lord, or I perish.” There is hope for such souls. They will seek, they will ask, they will knock, and they will find. When Jesus has taken away the burden of sin that is crushing the soul, you will experience the blessedness of the peace of Christ.—(Our High Calling, 131.)

As, seeing the sinfulness of sin, we fall helpless before the cross, asking forgiveness and strength, our prayer is heard and answered. Those who present their petitions to God in Christ’s name will never be turned away. The Lord says, “Him that cometh to Me I will in nowise cast out.”“He will regard the prayer of the destitute.” Our help comes from Him who holds all things in His hands. The peace that He sends is the assurance of His love to us.

Nothing can be more helpless and yet more invincible than the soul that feels its nothingness, and relies wholly upon the merits of a crucified and risen Saviour. God would send every angel in heaven to the aid of the one who places his whole dependence on Christ, rather than allow him to be overcome.—(The Signs of the Times, October 29, 1902.)

Those Seeking Forgiveness Must Themselves Have a Forgiving Attitude—When we come to ask mercy and blessing from God we should have a spirit of love and forgiveness in our own hearts. How can we pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” and yet indulge an unforgiving spirit? Matthew 6:12. If we expect our own prayers to be heard we must forgive others in the same manner and to the same extent as we hope to be forgiven.—(Steps to Christ, 97.)

After completing the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus added: “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14, 15. He who is unforgiving cuts off the very channel through which alone he can receive mercy from God. We should not think that unless those who have injured us confess the wrong we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. It is their part, no doubt, to humble their hearts by repentance and confession; but we are to have a spirit of compassion toward those who have trespassed against us, whether or not they confess their faults.—(The Faith I Live By, 131.)

In the prayer that Christ taught His disciples was the request: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We cannot repeat this prayer from the heart and dare to be unforgiving, for we ask the Lord to forgive our trespasses against Him in the same manner that we forgive those who trespass against us. But few realize the true import of this prayer. If those who are unforgiving did comprehend the depth of its meaning they would not dare to repeat it and ask God to deal with them as they deal with their fellow mortals.—(Testimonies for the Church 3:95.)

We need to examine our hearts as a preparation for coming before God in prayer, that we may know what manner of spirit we are of. If we do not forgive those who have trespassed against us, our prayers for forgiveness will not be heard. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” When as sinners we approach the mercy-seat, we cannot express the sentiment of this petition without forgiveness in our hearts for all who have done us an injury. Upon this petition Jesus makes a comment: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”(The Signs of the Times, August 21, 1884.)

Confession Must Be Specific—True confession is always of a specific character, and acknowledges particular sins. They may be of such a nature as only to be brought before God, they may be wrongs that should be confessed before individuals who have suffered injury through them, or they may be of a general kind that should be made known in the congregation of the people. But all confession should be definite and to the point, acknowledging the very sins of which you are guilty.—(Testimonies for the Church 5:639.)

Jesus Hears the Simple Prayer for Forgiveness—It is not essential that all shall be able to specify to a certainty when their sins were forgiven. The lesson to be taught the children is that their errors and mistakes are to be brought to Jesus in their very childhood of life. Teach them to ask His forgiveness daily for any wrong that they have done, and that Jesus does hear the simple prayer of the penitent heart, and will pardon, and receive them, just as He received the children brought to Him when He was upon earth.—(Child Guidance, 494, 495.)

Then, children, come to Jesus. Give to God the most precious offering that it is possible for you to make; give Him your heart. He speaks to you saying, “My son, My daughter, give Me thine heart. Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow; for I will cleanse you with My own blood. I will make you members of My family—children of the heavenly King. Take My forgiveness, My peace which I freely give you. I will clothe you with My own righteousness,—the wedding garment,—and make you fit for the marriage supper of the Lamb. When clothed in My righteousness, through prayer, through watchfulness, through diligent study of My word, you will be able to reach a high standard. You will understand the truth, and your character will be moulded by a divine influence; for this is the will of God, even your sanctification.”(The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 3:1162.)

It is very necessary that we should pray in order that we may have strength from above to see and resist the temptations of the enemy; but Satan ever seeks to prevent men from praying, by filling up their time with business or pleasure, or by leading them into such wickedness that they will have no desire to pray. The Lord Jesus has made heaven accessible to all who will come unto Him, and He invites the children and the youth to come. He said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.” Jesus would have the children and the youth come to Him with the same confidence with which they go to their parents. As a child asks his mother or father for bread when he is hungry, so the Lord would have you ask Him for the things which you need. If your sins are heavy upon your heart, you are to come to God and say, “For Christ’s sake, forgive my sins.” Every sincere prayer will be heard in heaven, and every earnest petition for grace and strength will be answered.—(The Youth’s Instructor, July 7, 1892.)

The Prayer for Forgiveness Must Be Shown to Be Sincere—“Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” Repentance as well as forgiveness is the gift of God through Christ. It is through the influence of the Holy Spirit that we are convinced of sin, and feel our need of pardon. None but the contrite are forgiven; but it is the grace of the Lord that makes the heart penitent. He is acquainted with all our weaknesses and infirmities, and He will help us. He will hear the prayer of faith; but the sincerity of prayer can be proved only by our efforts to bring ourselves into harmony with the great moral standard which will test every man’s character. We need to open our hearts to the influence of the Spirit, and to experience its transforming power.—(The Review and Herald, June 24, 1884.)

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you,” Why is it that we do not take God at His word? Asking and receiving are closely linked together. If you ask in faith for the things that God has promised, you will receive. Look to Jesus for the things that you need. Ask Him for forgiveness of sins, and as you ask in faith your heart will be softened, and you will forgive those who have injured you, and your petitions will go up to God fragrant with love. With praying comes watching unto prayer, and every thought and word and act will be in harmony with your earnest petition for reformation in life. The prayer of faith will bring corresponding returns. But a mere form of words, without earnest sincerity and fervent desire for help, with no expectation of receiving, will avail nothing. Let not such a petitioner think he shall receive anything of the Lord. Those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.—(The Review and Herald, March 28, 1912.)

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