Have you ever been hurt or betrayed by someone so deep that you found it very difficult or even felt like it was impossible to forgive them? Whether it’s abuse, slander, betrayal or dishonesty, wounds can go down deep and cause roots of unforgiveness to spring up in our hearts. To forgive wrongs we must be intentional to forgive or else those stubborn roots of unforgiveness will choke the “life” right out of us and adversely affect our prayer life and communion with God.
A prerequisite for answered prayer and for our sins to be forgiven is to forgive others.
"But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins too." (Matthew 11:25) Holding unforgiveness in our hearts is no small thing. In fact studies have shown that unforgiveness can have adverse effects on our physical and mental health. Moreover, it obstructs our prayer pathway to our Father and communion with Him.
Let’s look to our Redeemer and to the cross.
Though beaten, betrayed, scorned, ridiculed, and experiencing overwhelming pain and agony, in Jesus’ last moments He willfully chose to pray for the Roman soldiers, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Soon after, the thief on the cross by faith asked Jesus to remember Him when He came into His kingdom. Jesus replied to the dying criminal, “I assure you, today you will be with Me in paradise”; another willful loving act of forgiveness and mercy.
Through all the torture and pain Jesus willfully chose to pray and forgive. Jesus instructed His disciples, “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.” This is an act of will, an act of faith, and it takes a very conscious effort, in the strength of the Lord.
You may have someone who has deeply hurt you or someone close to you. Or maybe a person close to you may have betrayed you and caused you much pain and suffering. I encourage you today to forgive by faith. Sure, you may not “feel” it, but true faith will eventually change your heart enabling you to forgive and have victory in prayer and in your life.
Carefully access relationships.
Forgiving someone you love and care about deeply can lead to reconciliation and to a much desired reconciliation on both sides. Many marriages, family and friend relationships have been mended by the power of forgiveness.
It's so important to establish healthy boundaries. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean giving someone an open door into your life. But our obedience in extending forgiveness will reserve us a seat at God’s table to partake of His goodness, mercy, love, forgiveness, and fellowship. It gives us all access to the King's ear, heart and answer to prayer as He wills.
He who knew no sin died for our sins. We who know sin must die to ourselves and how we "feel" for us to extend forgiveness to others. Not easy but all things are possible to those who believe and put their trust in and rely on God.
Choosing to forgive by faith is a willful act. To willfully pray for those who have hurt is hard but if we are diligent in doing so, we will eventually tap into God’s heart and that is when our hearts are broken for them because our prayers are no longer in the flesh but in the spirit. It's a two-fold blessing. We have the privilege of praying for the person who wronged us (sometimes reluctantly) and God is doing a special work in us.
God’s own heart is poured out in our prayers and we are conformed more into Christ’s image because of it. Like Christ on the cross, and in His earthly ministry; it was never about Him. It was not His will but the Father's will be done. God being glorified through the Son. Reconciling us to the Father, loving us so much that He paid our sin debt in full with His shed blood. Therefore securing eternal life for those who believe in Him. May we follow Him more closely and capture His heart so that it will become one with ours.
Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God,
Father we thank You for sending Jesus to die for our sins and the penalty of it. We thank You for forgiving us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lord, I ask You to heal the hurt and dismantled places in our hearts. Bring healing to the secret and deep wounds. Some places may be damaged and we are not aware. You know all and we ask that You will perfect everything concerning us. You are faithful to do it.
Abba, we know that to live a life of prayer we must live a life of forgiveness and obedience. Where we have held on to grudges or have resentment and bitterness in our hearts enable us to really release it by faith. Our emotions may not line up with our act of faith but we know our hearts will catch up later. Each step we take toward forgiveness is a step closer to wholeness in You.
Lord we pray for those who have hurt us and ask that You would bless them. Work in them which is pleasing to You. Father, forgive them and shine Your light and love into their hearts. Above all we ask that they may know You, of Your mercy and saving grace, even if it is through us.
Help us to reflect Your heart, grace and compassion by walking in the Spirit. It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh profits nothing.
We ask all in Jesus name, Amen.