Troubled by some unanswered prayers, one of those “prayers-not-getting-beyond-the-ceiling” periods in her life, one of Catherine Marshall’s friends told her that it might be because “you are going about with a lot of aughts against a lot of anys.” This phrase comes from Mark 11:25 – “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (KJV). It helps to read it in a more contemporary translation – “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” (English Standard Version). This struck her as “a shaft of light.” She understood that certain of her prayers may not been answered because she had not set herself to the hard work of forgiveness. This very same truth can be found in I Peter 3:7 –
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way… since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
And so based on this teaching of Scripture, that our relationship with God is directly impacted by our relationship with each other, Catherine and her husband began a new spiritual discipline.
My husband Len and I started on a systematic releasing of our “aughts against all the anys” in our respective lives. We agreed to spend about 30 minutes each morning, each with a cup of coffee in a separate room, getting our “aughts” on paper. After that we would meet together for verbal prayer release of each person on our lists. Then we would tear the lists into little bits, put them in a large manila envelope. Eventually we would burn them. (Something More 39)
In her first book, A Man Called Peter, Catherine Marshall, while struggling with an illness began to ask the Lord for healing. In the course of this crisis, she said that she began to come to terms with “the practical ramifications of the fact that ‘God is Love.’”
I knew that anything unloving in me, any resentment, unforgiveness, or impurity shut God out, just as a muddy window-pane obscures the sunlight. Painfully, in an agony of mind and spirit, I began thinking back over my life, recalling all too vividly all of my transgressions and omissions. …Through many days I put down on paper all of the things of which I was ashamed. Some of it I shared with my mother, some with Peter. To some people far away, I wrote letters asking for their forgiveness for things they had long since forgotten, or had never even known about. It took me days to muster the courage to mail those letters. Then I claimed God’s forgiveness and cleansing. (181)
Here are two practical ways of living the truth of the teaching of Jesus Christ in Matthew 5:23-24 –
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Are you going about with a lot of “aughts” against a lot of “anys”? It is going to affect your spiritual life. You need to release them, and in doing so, there may very well be some people with whom you are “first going to have to be reconciled.” It’s hard work. It takes courage to do it. But the promise that it holds out to us as a way of deepening our relationship with God in Jesus Christ is so enormous that I can’t recommend it highly or urgently enough. In the miracle of reconciliation you will experience the power of the Gospel. DBS+