When we are isolated with our family, problems that are sometimes easy to ignore become more acute, and the need to receive and offer forgiveness to those around us becomes increasingly evident.

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Allison Waters Fowler grew up in a family that wanted to dedicate as much time as possible to the physical, emotional and spiritual healthy development of the three children in the family.

When not at home in the dreamy landscape of the mountains of Montana, the Waters family was usually at one of the family retreats they organised for those who wanted to rebuild their relationships and develop their spiritual lives. This life experience has given Allison strong convictions, and her authentic walk with God has been a source of encouragement for many. We asked her to share her experience, and what she understands about forgiveness, through prayer.

We may sometimes feel burdened by our sins even after we have prayed for forgiveness. How can we be sure that God has forgiven us?

Our feelings cannot be trusted. If the man by the pool of Bethesda had waited to feel healed before he believed, he wouldn’t have had the rich blessing. Instead, he took Jesus at His word and immediately acted on it. His faith took hold of the word of his Saviour and immediately the reality was experienced. Jesus says, “According to your faith, be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29) “For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). If we have confessed and forsaken our sins, we have complete assurance from God’s Word that He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7). 1 John 1:9 says: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” He promises: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). If you find that you transgress again, don’t give up. Get up and go back to God just as the prodigal son did. Confess, repent, ask for forgiveness and walk by His grace once again!

For anyone looking for more help and encouragement for this issue, I encourage you to read the inspired words found in Steps to Christ chapters 3-6. They are very helpful and encouraging!

What is the role of prayer in the small decisions of life? Shouldn’t we do some things ourselves? What does it mean to ask God for help in everything?

God wants us to realise the amazing privilege we have to develop a real relationship/friendship with Him. He is always there for us and yet sadly, we often act like we have no one with whom to share life’s burdens, cares, and perplexities. He says: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). He doesn’t want us to worry and stress over our cares. He wants us to talk to Him, just like to a friend and leave it at His feet.

Not only does He long to help us with the big and little challenges of our lives, He loves to hear about the things that we rejoice over and the things for which we are thankful. Not only can we talk to Him in formal prayer but as we are working, walking, playing, travelling—whatever we are doing we can uplift our needs and praises to Him in word and song. The more we open up to Him and share our heart as to a friend, the more connected we will be and the more solutions we will have even to the simplest perplexities. I have personally found the beauty of taking everyday stresses to Him instead of lying awake at night worrying about how the problem will be fixed.

What is the connection between prayer, a forgiving spirit, and good family relationships?

The connection between prayer and healthy relationships is inseparable. It is in prayer that we find peace and forgiveness for our own lives. As we experience this, it will flow out to our families. When we are at peace with God, it is much easier to be at peace with each other. We no longer blame others for our own wrong responses or actions but take ownership of them, asking forgiveness from those we have wronged and from the Lord. We remember that the same forgiveness that we have needed in our own lives is the same forgiveness that we need to offer to our families. Prayer is a source of strength to help us have wisdom to know how to handle the circumstances in our life and how best to love and encourage our family members. We have also found tremendous benefit in praying together as a family for our needs, for forgiveness for our sins, for the needs of others, and expressing gratitude to the Lord for His abundant blessings. When our family is bound together by the strength of the Lord found in prayer and His Word, we are an unbreakable, happy family no matter what our circumstances are.

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Norel Iacob is Editor in Chief of ST Network and Semnele timpului.