Q. My sister used to be a very strong Christian. Since getting a divorce she has fallen away from the church and pulled her children out as well. She is also pulling away from the family. I pray for her continually but I wonder if God hears my prayers due to the anger that I have towards her. I am tired of seeing her hurt the family and her children while turning her back on God. How do I pray for her in a way that is glorifying to God when I cannot seem to get control of my anger and hurt towards her?
A. You can’t pray effectively for your sister while you’re still angry with her. In Matt. 6:15 Jesus said unless we forgive those who sin against us, our Father in Heaven will not forgive us. This does not mean He will revoke our salvation, which was guaranteed for eternity as soon as we believed (Ephes. 1:13-14). It means that our failure to forgive others puts an unresolved issue between God and us and interrupts our fellowship with Him in the here and now. Among other things, this can hinder our prayers.
This is explained in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matt. 18:21-35) which you should study carefully. In the parable the King represents Jesus and His servants represent us. Being out of fellowship is represented by being turned over to the jailer. One servant has been forgiven a huge debt, but has refused to forgive a fellow servant a small one. The King asks, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”
The Lord has forgiven us for every sin we will ever commit against him just because we asked (Colossians 2:13-14). In return, He expects us to forgive others when they sin against us. You must now make the choice to forgive your sister just as the Lord has forgiven you. At the same time ask Him to forgive you for being angry with your sister. Keep doing this every time your anger comes back until you feel at peace about it. This will restore you to fellowship with the Lord (1 John 1:9). Then you can become an effective prayer warrior for your sister.