Have you ever heard the acronym ACTS regarding prayer. The acronym is a great way to remember how we should pray.
A is adoration (Praise God)
C is confession
T is thankgiving
S is supplication (Requests)
This is an especially useful tool for corporate prayer.
However, a few years ago, I realized that one VERY important element was missing from this acronym. This very important element should actually come before all the other things. Here is a verse that describes it:
But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Ah ha! All of our prayers really should begin with Forgiveness…Transforming our ACTS into FACTS. Even before we confess our own sins to God, we should ask Him to reveal to us anyone that we have not forgiven. In the act of obedience we should choose to forgive that person (and in submission, ask God to make that forgiveness complete in our hearts).
Sometimes we may spend more time on this step than any other, depending on how many people have sinned against us (either by commission or ommission) that week.
I know that sometimes I may find myself offended for small things. Even these need cleansing before God. For example: when my husband doesn't show interest or compassion for my latest problem, I feel a tad slighted or hurt. These are things that can send me to bed feeling a little sorry for myself, and a smidgen cold towards him. This is a hindrance to both a great marriage and my prayers being heard by God.
So, before we ask of God, before we present our needs to Him, before we even begin to praise and adore Him, we should forgive all the transgressions of others. Then, we can, with a sincere heart, pray "Forgive us AS we have forgiven others." You see, the act of forgiving others will have already been completed.
F - Forgiveness
A - Adoration
C - Confession
T - ThanksgivingS - Supplication