In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts [trespasses], as we forgive our debtors [those who trespass against us]” (Matthew 6:12). This petition says, in other words, “Forgive us as we forgive.” Remember that in the same proportion that you forgive others, God will forgive you. If you totally forgive others, God will totally forgive you. But if you only partly forgive others, God will only partly forgive you.
One major reason that many Christians do not receive answers to prayer is their failure to forgive others, usually one specific person. In my experiences with counseling people, I have found unforgiveness to be a common source of blockage in their spiritual lives. I once asked a woman whom I was counseling, “Is there anybody you haven’t forgiven?” She said, “Yes,” and went on to specify a distinguished person in the United States Department of Justice. I said, “If you want release, you will have to forgive him. There is no alternative. If you don’t forgive him, God does not forgive you.”
Are we willing to forgive? We may think, I don’t know if I can. God may also say, “I don’t know if I can.” We had better make up our minds. Forgiveness is not an emotion; it is a decision. I call this “tearing up the IOU.” Somebody might owe us thirty thousand dollars, but we could owe God six million dollars. If we want Him to tear up His IOU, we must first tear up ours.
That is God’s unvarying law. It is built into the Lord’s Prayer. And the last petition in the Lord’s Prayer is a petition for deliverance from the evil one, Satan. We have no right to pray for deliverance until we have forgiven others as we would have God forgive us.