If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
~ Matt 5:23-24
There is something to do before we kneel down to pray in our closet, or begin our worship in the sanctuary, or come to the Lord’s table. There ought to be a look inward at our own hearts before the look upward at the face of God. Are we ready to pray? Are the obstructions out of the way? Is our heart ready for worship? The worship that pleases God the best is love in the heart. He has no pleasure in sacrifices and ceremonies and ordinances while the heart is full of bitterness. He cares nothing for our professions of love to Him so long as we hate our brother. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?”
If therefore, we want our worship to be acceptable to God, we must be sure to come into His presence with hearts cleansed of all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and all malice. Thus every approach to God in prayer requires self-examination; and if we can remember that we have wronged any one, or that there is any estrangement or strife, we should seek reconciliation before we pray. At least we must see that our own spirits are thoroughly cleansed of all bitterness before we come to God’s altar. This rule is fitted to keep our hearts always free from anger. Saint Paul counsels that we should not let the sun go down upon our wrath. No day should be allowed to close over us with anger in our breasts. We may never see another day, and we should not lie down to sleep cherishing bitterness against any other. The evening prayer should cleanse our spirits of all feelings of anger, as we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”