Thirty Days of Prayer in the Home...
And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us...
To me, this is a challenging thought. We are to petition God to forgive us as we forgive others. That always sobers me and helps me to check my heart, to see if I am harboring unforgiveness in any form.
The amount of grace and forgiveness that the Lord pours on each one of us is unfathomable. The cost that Christ paid with his blood for us to be forgiven is likewise unimaginable. How hypocritical it is when we, then, turn around and refuse to forgive others. (See Matthew Chapter 18)
Forgiveness is not easy. The scope of this article is too short to do an exhaustive study of how to forgive others and how to accept forgiveness for ourselves. Here are a few suggestions that I hope are helpful:
1) Study every reference to the cross, especially to the passages that show us how Jesus entrusted his own hurt to the Father and, thus, was able to look down in compassion and say, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing." Pray to be able to forgive as the Lord forgives us.
2) Pray about and journal about how grateful you are for the forgiveness that the Lord has given to you. Meditate frequently about the Lord's grace and mercy.
3) Realize that forgiveness does not come about by excusing another person's sin or by denying that someone has caused you pain. Neither can you truly forgive by telling yourself that the other person's transgression is somehow all your fault, though we do have to take some responsibility if our sin really did contribute to the situation. Sometimes, when people are deeply hurt as children, the coping mechanism they try is to absorb all of the blame themselves. This can become a lifetime pattern for dealing with any hurt and breeds a fear of being honest about how we really feel and what we really think. Yet, pretending that an offense "was no big deal" or that we brought the pain on ourselves does not not bring about true forgiveness. Christ is the only one who can bear a person's sin. True forgiveness acknowledges the hurt honestly, but says, "I have been forgiven so abundantly. I forgive you, as the Lord forgives me."
4) Deep hurts leave scars that can come to mind when we hear or see something that brings up old memories. Once you have truly acknowledged the pain that someone has caused you and you have committed to forgive it to the Lord, don't be shocked if a painful thought surfaces again. Simply remind yourself that you have already forgiven this. Pray about it and surrender it to the Lord. Refuse to dwell on the matter. Turn your mind to something more positive. Gradually, the pain will lesson.
5) We sometimes try to deal with inner pain by blaming another person or persons for everything that hurts in our life. We not only hold that person's actual sins over his or her head, we also blame him or her for our own sins, as well. Again, this does not bring about true forgiveness and peace. Christ is the only person who can bear the sins of the world. If we need help sorting out issues of this kind, we can ask the Lord to bring light and truth to the situation. We can also talk things through with a godly friend, who can help us to see things more clearly.
6) Pray for those that hurt you or persecute you. Always have in your heart a prayer that someone who offends you might be reconciled to God. If we are praying for another person's welfare, we won't be as likely to harbor bitterness in our hearts. We may need prayer and wisdom to determine what our relationship with the forgiven person will be from heron out. But, whatever happens, we must remember that unforgiveness is never an option for the child of God.
7) Realize the power of forgiveness. Think what God has accomplished through forgiveness. Meditate on examples of forgiveness, such as the amazing forgiveness shown by the Amish people affected by the school shooting. Acknowledge to the Lord that His way, the way of forgiveness, is best, and ask for His help in truly being able to forgive.