A prayer for strength to forgive
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'” Matthew 18: 21-22
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4: 31-32
Forgiveness is a constant theme throughout the Bible: both the forgiveness we have received from God through Jesus’ death on the cross, and the forgiveness we are taught to extend to others. The two are also linked – because when we reflect on the grace we have freely received from God, our natural response should be a life of forgiveness towards other people. However, practicing forgiveness can be emotionally challenging for many reasons. Jesus makes it a clear command (Mark 11:25), and so we can trust that He does this because He knows what is best for us. Letting go of the wrongs people have done to us means we can live free from resentment, and imitate Christ by showing a love that keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).
- Think about a time in your life when you received forgiveness from someone else. How did that make you feel?
- Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if there is anyone in your life that you need to forgive. This could be recently or in the past, and could be for something big or small.
- How do you feel about forgiving this person? If it feels challenging, why is that?
- God is able to soften our hearts (Ezekiel 11:19). Pray that God would help you to let go of anger, resentment, or self-righteousness, and help you to forgive them.
- One way to actively forgive someone is to pray for God’s blessing on them – even when we might not feel like it. Ask God to bless this person in their relationships, health, finances, work, and whatever else comes to mind.
- Sometimes forgiveness needs to be a regular practice – particularly if you are feeling a lot of hurt. You could set a reminder to pray for this person daily, or even multiple times a day, until you feel you have truly forgiven them.
- When we forgive, we are not excusing or condoning the wrong that has been done to us – and we are trusting that God will bring justice. As you think about forgiveness, you might also find it helpful to read A prayer against injustice.
God of forgiveness,
I come before your throne of grace,
Remembering how much you forgave me at the cross,
And the high price you paid.
Thank you that you don’t treat me as my sins deserve,
And that although I was once stained with sin,
You have washed me white as snow.
God of mercy,
As you have forgiven me, help me to forgive.
I want to live with an open heart:
Free from bitterness,
And flowing with grace.
Where I have been wronged,
I trust you to make things right.
Where I am in pain,
I ask you to bring healing.
Please melt my heart of stone,
And give me a heart of flesh.
Give me the strength to forgive without holding back,
And help me to show the same mercy I’ve received from you.
I want to see others how you see them –
Made in your image,
And worthy of your love.
As I forgive those who have hurt me,
I choose to let go of anger and resentment,
And with a thankful heart,
I walk into freedom.
Sometimes it isn’t appropriate to reach out to someone we need to forgive, as it may cause them more hurt than healing. In that situation, you may find it helpful to tell a trusted friend or someone in your Connect Group about what you’re going through. As forgiveness can sometimes be a long-term process, and not a one-time event, you could also ask them to check in on you in a few weeks’ time to ask how you’re doing, and whether you might want to repeat this prayer/reflection again.
At other times it can be a very powerful thing to tell someone we’ve forgiven them – particularly if we still have a relationship with that person and we know they are holding onto feelings of guilt or regret. In that situation, forgiveness may bring just as much freedom to them as it does to us.
- Our Pastoral Support team are always available to help you process what you’re going through. You can get in touch with them in confidence at [email protected]
- If you’re finding unforgiveness is an ongoing pattern in your life, you might want to consider doing the STEPS course. This 12 week course focuses on helping you break free from unhelpful behaviours and has helped many people to forgive others. Find out more at stepscourse.org