Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Col. 3:13

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:18-19

Dear Lord Jesus, every time I pray the “Lord’s Prayer,” I’m confronted with the dailyness of the call to forgiveness—acknowledging the way you have forgiven me, and extending that same grace to others. Usually that’s not a big deal. Maybe it’s because I like conflict about as much as I like canned asparagus, and would rather minimize, dance around or wave off an offense than deal with the mess. But you’ve been forcing this issue with me over the past few weeks, and I know you intend my growth and freedom.

I can see how my conflict avoidance is a thin veil for the serial killer that lives within. Even as I write and pray this prayer, two names and faces come before me that I know I haven’t completely forgiven from my heart. I’ve enjoyed holding them hostage, by my critical spirit and self-righteous smuggery, by nursing a grudge and fertilizing my self-righteousness. Help me, Jesus, and others like me. Though I’m convicted, I can’t say that I relish the idea of letting go of my pain. There are moments I want “sweet” revenge more than I relish your lavish grace. Have mercy on me, Jesus. This isn’t okay.

I praise you for already forgiving all of my sins—past, present, and future; every sin of word, thought, and deed. I praise you for not merely waving off my sins, but wading into the mess and paying the supreme price of your life and death. As I ponder the riches of your grace, I realize that unforgiveness is the greatest non sequitur of all. I purpose to continue in the process of forgiving these two people, and anyone else you bring to mind. I repent, and abandon myself to the riches of the gospel. You must help me, Jesus. I cannot and I will not do this on my own. So very Amen I pray, in your holy and loving name.

 

 

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4 thoughts on “A Prayer about the (Often Difficult) Process of Forgiving Others”

  1. a. says:

    “As I ponder the riches of your grace, I realize that unforgiveness is the greatest non sequitur of all. I repent, and abandon myself to the riches of the gospel. You must help me, Jesus. I cannot and I will not do this on my own.”

    amen. today’s reading too from John MacArthur .. the pain of repentance (about unforgiveness, or whatever)….

    the hot coal taken from the altar of incense in heaven (Rev. 8:3–5) is emblematic of God’s purifying work (v. 6). Repentance is painful. Spiritual cleansing for special service to the Lord, not salvation, is in view (v. 8).

  2. Shanda Piercy says:

    I love the part where you say, “Abandon my self to the riches of the gospel.” How can one not forgive, even in the most hurtful circumstances knowing what Christ did for me…..This only comes through a humbling of ourselves and falling on our faces and letting go and letting God use every circumstance in our lives to His glory!!!!

  3. betsy says:

    Two sentences offered me clarification from the nagging blur of emotion my conscience has been knitting.
    “I can see how my conflict avoidance is a thin veil for the serial killer that lives within.”
    “You must help me, Jesus. I cannot and I will not do this on my own.” “..will not..” as in it isn’t possible AND I am making a stand to not. Thank you for sharing your struggles. That is what helps my walking.

  4. Martin says:

    … a poem about forgiveness and prayer

    TEMPTED BY FORGIVENESS

    Every time I think of you
    I say prayers
    Prayers for your pardon
    Prayers for your prosperity

    If not
    These prayers would have been plots
    To lure you to back alleys
    Where I would show you
    Who is quicker and more cunning,
    Tougher and stronger-willed
    Plots to thrill me with your demise

    Each time your memory comes begging for revenge
    I offer alms to cleanse your name

    If not
    I would surely conjure up a voodoo doll
    Consecrating poison pins for you
    Remembrances of those you crushed
    In your ascension to your throne

    And on those days when prayers and alms are not enough
    I fast, remembering the sins of my own soul

    I don the spirit sackcloth
    Pummel ash into my eyes
    And repent of my disdain for you
    For the ways you transformed black into white
    White into shades of gray
    For your quick winks and slanted smiles
    For the lies that slid along your spine

    But, tonight prayer is my refuge
    Prayer that heals my soul
    Prayer that seeks your good
    Prayer that squeezes blood
    From a heart seeking to forgive

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Scotty Smith


Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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