January 8 I Friday
“And He has given us this command: anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
—1 John 4:21
Our prayers may be hindered by three main barriers when we pray: selfish motives, cherishing sin or unwillingness to submit to Christ. There is also one more barrier that we can expound from 1 Peter 3:7: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” Husbands are to treat their wives well so that their prayer life will not be hindered. Although Peter speaks specifically to husbands being considerate towards their wives, we can legitimately broaden this to our relationships generally.
In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, He teaches, “...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). When the verse says, “has something against you” it could be one of two reasons. The first is that it could be our brother or sister who is wrong, so he or she has something against us. The second is that we are the ones who are wrong and our brother or sister has something against us. The phrase is deliberately ambiguous because it does not matter who is right and who is wrong, if there is something between our brother or sister, leave our gift, first go and be reconciled. Then come and offer the gift.
While the passage in Matthew 5 does not speak specifically of prayer, Jesus is talking about meeting with God and having communion with Him. Hence, our principle applies because our relationship with God is not only going to influence our relationship with others, but our relationship with others will determine the quality of our relationship with God.
John tells us, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20). We can lie to ourselves about our relationship with God because God is not visible. But in actuality, our relationship with God will be seen in our relationships with others. How is our relationship with others? Is there anyone that we need to be reconciled with today?
May our external relationships reflect our internal relationship with God so that our prayers may not be hindered.
Prayer: Precious Lord, help me to make amends with my brothers and sisters who have something against me. I long to be in a right relationship with them as a reflection of my relationship with You. Thank You, Lord.