Blocked Prayer: 5

‘First go and be reconciled to them.’ Matthew 5:24 NIV

The fifth obstacle to answered prayer is an unforgiving spirit. Your anger may feel justified, but it can produce long-term results that hurt you. Regardless of ‘who did what to whom’, resentment is hazardous to your health and spiritual well-being.

Jesus said, ‘If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.’ (Matthew 5:23–24 NIV) Satan will keep hurting you every day of your life—until you decide to forgive.

God says, ‘I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for My own sake, and remembers your sins no more.’ (Isaiah 43:25 NIV) Stop bringing up all the transgressions—that is, the offences—other people have committed. God is really serious about this sort of behaviour. He ‘struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the Ark of the Lord.’ (1 Samuel 6:19 NIV) What was in the Ark? The Ten Commandments which we’ve all broken; the record of our guilt and failure.

Think twice before you decide to ‘lift the lid’ on someone else’s sins; you’re in a dangerous place with God! You might say, ‘They don’t deserve to be forgiven.’

None of us do, but God keeps forgiving us anyway. His Word says, ‘Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.’ (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV) So if you want God to answer your prayers—forgive, and let it go!

SoulFood: Joel 1–3, Luke 6:17–26, Ps 79, Pr 15:18–21

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2021

Today’s Readings

Joel 1–2:16

1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel:

  Hear this, you elders;
    give ear, all inhabitants of the land!
  Has such a thing happened in your days,
    or in the days of your fathers?
  Tell your children of it,
    and let your children tell their children,
    and their children to another generation.
  What the cutting locust left,
    the swarming locust has eaten.
  What the swarming locust left,
    the hopping locust has eaten,
  and what the hopping locust left,
    the destroying locust has eaten.
  Awake, you drunkards, and weep,
    and wail, all you drinkers of wine,
  because of the sweet wine,
    for it is cut off from your mouth.
  For a nation has come up against my land,
    powerful and beyond number;
  its teeth are lions’ teeth,
    and it has the fangs of a lioness.
  It has laid waste my vine
    and splintered my fig tree;
  it has stripped off their bark and thrown it down;
    their branches are made white.
  Lament like a virgin wearing sackcloth
    for the bridegroom of her youth.
  The grain offering and the drink offering are cut off
    from the house of the LORD.
  The priests mourn,
    the ministers of the LORD.
10   The fields are destroyed,
    the ground mourns,
  because the grain is destroyed,
    the wine dries up,
    the oil languishes.
11   Be ashamed, O tillers of the soil;
    wail, O vinedressers,
  for the wheat and the barley,
    because the harvest of the field has perished.
12   The vine dries up;
    the fig tree languishes.
  Pomegranate, palm, and apple,
    all the trees of the field are dried up,
  and gladness dries up
    from the children of man.

13   Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests;
    wail, O ministers of the altar.
  Go in, pass the night in sackcloth,
    O ministers of my God!
  Because grain offering and drink offering
    are withheld from the house of your God.
14   Consecrate a fast;
    call a solemn assembly.
  Gather the elders
    and all the inhabitants of the land
  to the house of the LORD your God,
    and cry out to the LORD.
15   Alas for the day!
  For the day of the LORD is near,
    and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
16   Is not the food cut off
    before our eyes,
  joy and gladness
    from the house of our God?
17   The seed shrivels under the clods;
    the storehouses are desolate;
  the granaries are torn down
    because the grain has dried up.
18   How the beasts groan!
    The herds of cattle are perplexed
  because there is no pasture for them;
    even the flocks of sheep suffer.
19   To you, O LORD, I call.
  For fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness,
  and flame has burned
    all the trees of the field.
20   Even the beasts of the field pant for you
    because the water brooks are dried up,
  and fire has devoured
    the pastures of the wilderness.

2:1   Blow a trumpet in Zion;
    sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
  Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
    for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near,
  a day of darkness and gloom,
    a day of clouds and thick darkness!
  Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains
    a great and powerful people;
  their like has never been before,
    nor will be again after them
    through the years of all generations.
  Fire devours before them,
    and behind them a flame burns.
  The land is like the garden of Eden before them,
    but behind them a desolate wilderness,
    and nothing escapes them.
  Their appearance is like the appearance of horses,
    and like war horses they run.
  As with the rumbling of chariots,
    they leap on the tops of the mountains,
  like the crackling of a flame of fire
    devouring the stubble,
  like a powerful army
    drawn up for battle.
  Before them peoples are in anguish;
    all faces grow pale.
  Like warriors they charge;
    like soldiers they scale the wall.
  They march each on his way;
    they do not swerve from their paths.
  They do not jostle one another;
    each marches in his path;
  they burst through the weapons
    and are not halted.
  They leap upon the city,
    they run upon the walls,
  they climb up into the houses,
    they enter through the windows like a thief.
10   The earth quakes before them;
    the heavens tremble.
  The sun and the moon are darkened,
    and the stars withdraw their shining.
11   The LORD utters his voice
    before his army,
  for his camp is exceedingly great;
    he who executes his word is powerful.
  For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome;
    who can endure it?

12   “Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
    “return to me with all your heart,
  with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13     and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
  Return to the LORD your God,
    for he is gracious and merciful,
  slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
    and he relents over disaster.
14   Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
    and leave a blessing behind him,
  a grain offering and a drink offering
    for the LORD your God?
15   Blow the trumpet in Zion;
    consecrate a fast;
  call a solemn assembly;
16     gather the people.
  Consecrate the congregation;
    assemble the elders;
  gather the children,
    even nursing infants.
  Let the bridegroom leave his room,
    and the bride her chamber.

Luke 6:17–26

17 And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, 18 who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. And those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. 19 And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came out from him and healed them all.

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

21 “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.

25 “Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.

26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.

Psalm 79

A Psalm of Asaph.

79:1   O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
    they have defiled your holy temple;
    they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
  They have given the bodies of your servants
    to the birds of the heavens for food,
    the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.
  They have poured out their blood like water
    all around Jerusalem,
    and there was no one to bury them.
  We have become a taunt to our neighbors,
    mocked and derided by those around us.
  How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever?
    Will your jealousy burn like fire?
  Pour out your anger on the nations
    that do not know you,
  and on the kingdoms
    that do not call upon your name!
  For they have devoured Jacob
    and laid waste his habitation.
  Do not remember against us our former iniquities;
    let your compassion come speedily to meet us,
    for we are brought very low.
  Help us, O God of our salvation,
    for the glory of your name;
  deliver us, and atone for our sins,
    for your name’s sake!
10   Why should the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”
  Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants
    be known among the nations before our eyes!
11   Let the groans of the prisoners come before you;
    according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!
12   Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors
    the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!
13   But we your people, the sheep of your pasture,
    will give thanks to you forever;
    from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Proverbs 15:18–21

18   A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
    but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.
19   The way of a sluggard is like a hedge of thorns,
    but the path of the upright is a level highway.
20   A wise son makes a glad father,
    but a foolish man despises his mother.
21   Folly is a joy to him who lacks sense,
    but a man of understanding walks straight ahead.

Fri 09 July, 2021


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