I read this last week and was reminded that holding a grudge is no small thing.
Mark 11:25 (ESV) And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
A forgiving heart is necessary for answered prayer. But it’s also hard. I don’t think I’ve been greatly sinned against, but I do hold grudges nonetheless. Grudges for ways people have stepped on my idols, not necessarily ways that they have sinned against me. I have lots of minor grudges because I am a wicked sinner. I take offense at others. Just saying. Often I’m not a pleasant fellow in my heart.
And God convicts me for which I’m thankful. And he prompts me to confess my pride and grudgeholding. And often I do. Which is necessary according to this verse. If I have anything against anyone, I need to give it up. Otherwise it affects the Father’s forgiveness of me. So my grudges are more serious than I think they are.
Of course this is talking about familial forgiveness I believe, not judicial forgiveness. The latter was settled at the cross. But like after the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:14-15, this passage tells me that my relationship with God can be affected by my unforgiveness towards others.
And notice this verse doesn’t claim that the offender needs to ask for forgiveness. Of course other passages encourage that, but here, I just need to extend grace to even an unrepentant offender.
It’s an urgent matter. This person is standing in prayer, and they recall they’re unforgiving. They need to repent right then.
So you cannot hold a grudge if you want to pray effectively. God doesn’t hear the unforgiving.