Jesus makes a key point about effective prayer. He had entered Jerusalem triumphantly with crowds of supporters around him “shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!’” (Mark 11:9,10). Were they thinking the kingdom was about to be established? Were they disillusioned by a false expectation? Has that happened, in smaller measure, to the older ones among us as we look back over recent decades?

How fickle human nature proved to be! A few days later “the chief priests stirred up the crowd … and they cried out again, ‘Crucify him’” and so Pilate, “wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas” (15:11-15). In today’s chapter the point which particularly attracted our attention was when Jesus said, “… Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses” (verse 25). This is a vital principle to have in mind in our relationship with Jesus our Saviour and his Father who is our Father. It must be in the forefront of our minds when we are seeking a specific answer to prayer.

Our thoughts go with Jesus who a few days later prayed in difficult circumstances, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He was hanging there in agony on the cross, he watched them casting lots for his garments, and the scripture which predicted this would come into his mind (Psalm 22:18).

How many of those watching his agony and hearing his words, were among those “cut to the heart” when Peter addressed the crowd of thousands on the day of Pentecost seven weeks later. He told them, “‘Let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:36,37). Peter, together with rest of the disciples counselled them to “Repent and be baptised”. And “those who received his word were baptised”.

And us, after we have read and “received” his word? Do we read without receiving it? We must receive it in both our head and our heart.