There may come a time in many people’s lives where they come to this stage. “I know I should forgive! I now really want to forgive! But just how do I go about doing it?”
In the article which follows we look at how we can put the suggested steps in the previous article No.217 into practice.
What follows can be used by individuals who have decided to forgive another person
It could be used in small groups to show how one can forgive
It could be used by a Pastor or Minister in leading someone through the steps of forgiveness
It could be used in a large group as the culmination of a teaching day on Forgiveness
In the previous Chapters we have looked at what it means to forgive another person. In this Chapter we put what we have learned into practice.
The suggestions that follow are for those who have come to the stage of saying, “I know I should forgive that person. I have now decided that I will. But how do I go about it in practice?”
In this chapter we turn the teaching in the previous chapter into a prayer in which we actually forgive another person.
I have used this with individuals in a prayer-ministry session when someone has asked me to help them to pray that they might forgive someone who hurt them in the past.
I have also used it in larger groups in teaching seminars and even with a group of close to two hundred people during a Mission at a church in Florida. On that day we previously had two sessions of teaching. The first was “The Freedom Of Knowing We Are Forgiven By God”. The second was on “The Freedom That Comes From Forgiving Others”. This final session was on “Let’s Put It Into Practice” as I led people through the prayer that follows.
I had asked people to think about someone they knew they should forgive and wanted to but didn’t know how to do it. I suggested that they didn’t have to begin with their most difficult person to forgive. They could start on someone who hadn’t done as much damage as others and then later graduate up to the person whom they though they would never be able to forgive.
I was surprised how readily people became involved in the process in Florida. In fact there was only one man among the group who seemed to be not participating. At the end of the session an elderly woman came to me and said, “Well I’ve got my first one out of the way. I’m ready for the next one now.” Other people said similar things but in less blunt language. However next morning I saw the man who had seemed not to be participating on the previous day, coming towards me. I must admit my heart sank and I imagined him coming up to tell me what he didn’t like about the previous day’s teaching. He began by saying, “You probably noticed that I wasn’t involved in the forgiving part yesterday.” It wasn’t the time for me to say a loud “AMEN brother!” Then he went on to say that the teaching had got through to him and that he felt very “raw” emotionally as a result. He had wanted to forgive someone desperately but feared if he began the process he would just fall apart emotionally in the presence of 200 people. Then with a smile he said, “But I did it last night when I got home. I was able to forgive someone whom I had never been able to forgive before”.
The important thing to note about what we are about to do is that it is not a gimmick. The process actually works. It works not because it is a clever technique, but because people are entering into a relationship with God in prayer. Through prayer they seek His help to forgive that other person or those other people. He helps them to do what they could not do without His help.
In the following we use the outline from the previous chapter and turn it into a prayer. I have retained the sections in the Notes for convenience but it is really one long prayer seeking to cover all the facets in the teaching in the previous chapter.
PRAYING TO THE LORD
The information on how to really forgive others has been given and now is the time to act on it. We do so in prayer. As we pray we should hold up before the Lord the person we want to forgive. Then we pray something like what follows in the suggested prayer.
1). RECOGNISE THEIR GUILT – THEIR SIN AGAINST US. FACE THE FACTS!
• “Lord I now bring that person/those people before You. I choose to forgive them of their sin against me.
• I forgive them of their sins of commission against me. The things they did or said that hurt me. (This … and … and … and … )
• I choose now to forgive them of their sins of omission. The things they should have said or done and didn’t and I suffered as a result. (I forgive them of failing to do this ….and …. and ….and…. )
• I forgive them for not loving me as they were meant to do and especially when ……….
2). DECIDE TO FORGIVE THE PERSON OF EVERYTHING AND TO RELEASE THE SIN
• Lord, I choose to forgive them of everything large and small. I am letting all those sins go. I no longer want to hold on to them
• I choose not to keep focussing in a negative way on those people or on their sins or on the hurts those people gave me.
3). VERBALISE TO GOD, OUR FORGIVENESS TOWARDS THEM
Lord, I speak out these words of forgiveness. “I forgive them of all those things in the name of Jesus Christ.”
4). ASK GOD TO FORGIVE THEM AND TO BLESS THEM. (Jesus said, Lk 6:27, “… Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”)
• Father I ask that you might forgive them as Your Son Jesus asked You to forgive His enemies as He hung on the cross.
• I ask You that You might bless them, especially that they might come to know You and to love You.
• I ask that they find Your plan for them and fulfil it by Your grace.
• I ask that You might heal them of all that needs healing within them.
• I pray that they may come to be in the centre of Your will for them.
5). ASK GOD TO FORGIVE ME OF ANY PART I PLAYED IN CONTRIBUTING TO THE SIN
• Lord show me if I contributed to their sin against me in any way whether it was deliberate or in ignorance.
• I ask You to forgive me of what I did or said that contributed to their sin against me.
• Lord I refuse to accept guilt that wasn’t my fault. I reject false guilt in Jesus’ name.
6). ASK GOD TO HEAL ME OF THE DAMAGE DONE TO ME
• Lord, I realise that all sin has an effect. I ask that You would heal any damage caused to me through the words, deeds, and attitudes of those people, especially ……………
- Lord I thank you by faith for the healing you are now imparting to me. Heal me for Your sake so that I might do Your will to Your glory for the rest of my life.
7). AFFIRM TO MYSELF (AND TO OTHERS WHERE APPROPRIATE) THAT I HAVE FORGIVEN THEM
• Thank You Lord for the grace You gave me to be able to forgive those people.
• I declare in Your sight that I have forgiven them of all their sins against me.
• I thank you Lord that You are healing me as I ask for Your healing.
• I choose to focus on Your healing power in my life and not on my previous hurt and pain.
8). PRAY, “LORD, WHAT SHALL I DO NOW?”
• Lord what should I do about those people? Should I contact them? I need Your wisdom.
• Lord what sort of contact should I make with those You want me to contact?
• Lord what attitude do I need to adopt as I make that contact? Help me to be confident in You and give me grace to be appropriate in my approach to them.
Thanksgiving for God’s grace in being freed to forgive
• I thank You Lord that You gave me Your grace to work through this forgiving process. Show me Lord if there are other people You want me to forgive.
• I thank You for the continuing grace You are giving me to become the person You want me to be.
• I thank You Lord that I can dance right now in the freedom of my forgiveness.
• I thank You that I can be free even if those people I have forgiven still reject me.
• I pray that You would work in their hearts so that there might be reconciliation with them in the days ahead if that is part of Your purpose for me.
• I thank You that I am free right now. Help me now to live for You to Your glory. AMEN
AN ADDENDUM. FORGIVING OTHERS. Some verses to reflect on
The Example of Joseph who forgave his brothers
Gen 50:17 … Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
The Example of Jesus as He spoke from the cross
Lk 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
The Example of Stephen as he was being stoned to death
Act 7:59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.
The Teaching of Jesus to His disciples
Mat 6:12, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
The Teaching of Paul in his epistles
Eph 4:32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Col 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
1). What do you think is the hardest part of forgiving someone who caused you harm? Can you describe just why you think it is so difficult?
2). How do you think you can overcome your reluctance to forgive that other person? What Bible verses might help to motivate you to go through the forgiving process?
3). What should you do if after having prayed through the prayer of forgiving someone, you then remembered some other hurt they had caused you?
4). How would you explain to someone enquiring about forgiveness, the meaning of the phrase mentioned in previous articles, “It only takes one to dance, but two to tango?”
Blog No.218. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Tuesday 2nd May 2017.