Today, as I floated serenely on a body board on a lake, a thought came to me. It was a short, powerful answer to a question I have been asking. I have been searching in prayer concerning forgiveness and it’s function in the life of a believer.
Why do we need to forgive when we are injured? If a person is hurt and limping through life because of a sudden trauma or a lifetime of abuse or repeated rejections, why would the Lord require them to forgive to be forgiven?
Why would the person who is suffering from lack of affection, affirming words or kindness need to give when they are empty? How is it possible to pour out when you feel like you have nothing to give?
I have to be honest. I know the answer. I know many answers in scripture. But, sometimes, knowing isn’t enough.
Today, God gave me a clear, brief word.
Forgiveness is a bath after a long day.
Each new day brings sweat, dirt, wear and tear. Muscles get sore, energy is depleted and emotions are stretched thin by the time the sun goes down. A nice bath or shower is a time for cleansing, a time for washing, a time for renewing.
My children, especially my young boys, regularly question their need for a bath or a shower. They will ask, incredulously, why is it necessary, if they will just get up in the morning and get dirty again??!! Because, the rest of us will have to smell you, and no one wants to look at that nappy head. Also, it’s a good habit to get into, right? Kids don’t generally understand the value of baths, until they get in, of course, then they don’t want to get out. Many parents of young children know that the night time bath is relaxing and a good end to a long day. It is preparation for a good night’s sleep.
So, in brief, forgiveness is letting go of the muck, dirt and stress and emotional baggage that is accumulated through the day and in some cases, a lifetime. Spiritually, when we hold onto anger and review the “footage” over and over in our heads of what was said, done or not done, we get into a very bad place. In fact, unforgiveness brings anxiety, physical ailments, stress, muscle tension, insomnia and so many things that weigh down on us. Releasing the person who hurt us, and what they did to us to The Lord, is giving God control. It is allowing The Lord to cleanse us from the hurt and showing we are willing to stop replaying the cycle of pain over and over and over.
When Peter asked Jesus, “How many times should I forgive my brother in a day? Seventy times?” Jesus replied, “Seventy times seven.”
Did you know that with God, seven is the perfect number? Seventy times seven is the sign of perfection. Perfect forgiveness. Perfect washing of the soul. Perfect release. Perfect cleansing.
When I am cooking, any time I touch meat, I wash my hands before touching other things. This prevents cross-contamination. When we are hurt and then forgive, we are keeping the bacteria of pain and unforgiveness from spoiling and infecting other parts of our lives.
Forgiveness is not giving someone what they deserve. A person doesn’t even need to say they are sorry for us to release them. (Although, I must say that helps make it much easier.) But, when we don’t forgive, it is like holding something very tightly in your fist and not releasing it. We were not made to grip things tightly without releasing. Forgiveness is choosing to let go of our judgement and let God be the judge. If the person needs to be judged, God has the ability to do it justly. We cannot humanly carry the weight of every sin and offense against us. That is why Jesus did it.
Forgiveness is doing what God did for us. In order to restore our relationship with him, he was willing to sacrifice all. He gave his only Son Jesus Christ to carry the burden of every sin, pain and injury we have ever carried. He did this not because we were religious enough, or perfect, or the best people we need to be. He did this because we could not ever be what we need to be to make up for what we have done. His love is perfect.
When we trust in Jesus Christ, God’s son, to forgive our sins; when we repent and turn to him, he will cleanse us of all of our sin. Our relationship is restored. He asks us to freely give what we have received. We forgive because Christ forgave us. We are cleansed, so we offer the cleansing to others.
The cleansing flood of the blood of Jesus washes away our pain.
The cleansing flood of the blood of Jesus washes away our stress.
The cleansing flood of the blood of Jesus washes away our sin.
The cleansing flood of the blood of Jesus washes away our past.
The cleansing flood of the blood of Jesus makes all things new.
When we forgive, the cleansing flood of the blood of Jesus cleanses us from the pain of the day….and in some cases…from a lifetime.
Here is a list of two prayers for those seeking a cleansing work of God in their lives.
The first is a prayer for salvation. This is for someone who has never experienced Christ’s forgiveness or maybe someone who has wandered away from Jesus and needs to come back.
The second is a prayer for those who need a release and the cleansing that forgiveness brings when we let go of the pain in our lives to Jesus. Remember. Forgiveness is an act of the will…not of the emotions. We step out in faith and Jesus cleanses us. Once we are in obedience with Christ, our emotions are able to heal and eventually The Lord will bring us to a place we never thought possible.
1. Prayer for Complete Forgiveness. Prayer to be forgiven by God:
First things first. If you would like to enter into a relationship with God by trusting on his Son Jesus Christ, go to this prayer first:
“Father, in Jesus name, I need your cleansing. I am a sinner. I have a lifetime of sin and guilt. I don’t know everything about you, but I am daring to believe in you. I believe in your Son Jesus Christ. I believe he came to earth in the flesh, that he died on the cross for my sin and rose again. I need your forgiveness. I need your cleansing. I ask that you transform my life today and teach me to follow you all the days of my life. Thank you for your love, your forgiveness and your Spirit. Fill me with your Spirit. Fill me with your power to live in your truth and to walk like Jesus. Thank you for forgiveness. Help me to connect with people who can help me understand you and to teach me to walk in your ways of love and life. In Jesus name, Amen.”
After you pray this, if there are particular things you struggle with and certain sins that come to your mind and heart…ask God to forgive those specifically and to help you to leave those things behind you. God will forgive you, but he will give you grace and mercy to walk in a new life in Christ. Find a church where they believe the Bible is the true and infallible Word of God. Start reading your Bible every day to get encouragement and more cleansing. Mark is a good book to start in. THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF YOUR NEW LIFE IN CHRIST! Welcome to the family of God. Be sure to tell someone right away that you have decided to trust in Jesus!
2. Prayer to be free from unforgiveness:
(You may need to pray this prayer or something like it for several different people. It may be difficult to do. You may even feel sick at your stomach or like running away, or even feel sleepy. It is important not to stop praying. This is part of the emotional battle and spiritual battle that is happening inside of you. You are winning! Do not give up. After you pray for one person, God may bring something else to your mind later or the next day. You may definitely need to take time to do this more than once. )
“Father, in Jesus name, I come before you and thank you for the forgiveness I have in Christ Jesus. When I think of all you have done for me, I am amazed. Father, you know how badly I have been hurt by ______ (insert name of person or people here.) I can’t stop thinking about it. This anger and hurt cripples me inside. When I think about them, I feel ____________________(insert feelings here). Some of the things that hurt the most are: ___________________ (talk to God the way you would talk to a friend here. Feel free to cry at any point. The Bible says tears are a cleansing for the soul. Also, the scripture says that The Holy Spirit prays for us when we have no words except groans that words cannot express.)
Father, right now, I pray and release ________ from my judgement in Jesus name. I forgive ______ in Jesus name. I ask you cleanse me from anger, guilt, shame, rejection, fear and rage that been in my life because of this person’s sin against me, in the name of Jesus. I am not under the curse of this person’s sin against me, or under the power of unforgiveness, I am in Christ. I choose to stand in Christ Jesus and the power of his love and forgiveness. Forgive me for not handing this over to you completely before. Forgive me for not forgiving. Uproot bitterness from my life, in Jesus name. I command the devil to leave me alone concerning this person, in Jesus name. Satan, you have no control over this area of my life, anymore. I forbid your activity to try to sow bitterness into my life, in Jesus name. Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven and I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy, nothing will harm you.” I rejoice that Jesus has died for me and that my name is written in heaven. Father God, I want to live in the cleansing power that bought me. I want to live in the authority that Christ gives me to forgive. I need wisdom, insight and the power of the Holy Spirit to be aware of when bitterness starts creeping back in again, in Jesus’ name. Father God, bring healing to my life. Bring life to my relationships. Teach me to forgive this person, every time I am tempted to think about the hurts of the past. Train my heart and mind to dwell on your goodness and love. In Jesus name. Amen.”
Spend time worshipping Jesus on your own, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Take time to sing to him or thank him aloud for all he has done for you. Finally, pray for those who have persecuted you and wrongly used you.
When hurts resurface or you are treated wrongly again, it is important to pray, “I forgive in Jesus’ name.” This is just like a quick hand wash after getting something gross on your hands. Hope that makes sense. Jesus said to Peter that after someone has had a bath, the only thing they need to wash is their feet. This referred to the fact that everywhere they went in that time was done by foot on dusty roads. So, when they got to a house, they were immediately treated to a foot washing. Once you have taken a specific grievance before the Lord and done major prayer over it, you may not need the same type of intense prayer, again. You may just need to say a short prayer affirming forgiveness and your freedom in Christ.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or message me. Please share this with anyone who may be suffering from the hurts that someone else has caused them. We all have the power in Christ to be free!