Beth Moore, in her excellent book, “Praying God’s Word,” has a chapter devoted to “Overcoming Unforgiveness.” Using Scripture, she has a three-fold way to become more like Christ in this area. First, she has an extensive section of scriptural prayers which ask God to do a deep work in us that we might forgive as He forgives us. Next, she recommends praying “about” the person or persons we need to forgive. In essence, she says, we are “tattling” on the person to God. We express how we feel about what that person has done through venting our anger, our exasperation, etc. This was the very way that David dealt with those who were persecuting him. As you read through the Psalms, you will see clearly how David talked “about” those persons to God. He did not hold back from expressing his displeasure: “Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit” (Psalm 5:9).
“Two important things happen,” Moore states, “when we learn to pray honestly about the person who has hurt us. First, we pour the hurt out rather than allowing it to remain and turn bitter, and second, we articulate our own feelings, thereby placing them in view before our own eyes as well as God’s. This way, we also get a chance to see if something seems ridiculous, out of proportion, or right on target. Our prayers can sometimes help us gain a little insight into our own hearts.” If we pour out our grievances to God, we won’t be as likely to pour them out to others, which could then cause them to stumble too. Praying “about” those who wrong us saves us from compounding our sin by turning it into gossip, or causing others to harbor the same resentments we do.
God of Forgiveness, I am so quick to take offense and to allow my anger, hurt or embarrassment to lead me into sin. Please enable me to bring my grievance to You before it has the chance to grow into something that will cause me, or someone else to stumble. Show me how to place those who offend me at Your feet first so that You can diffuse every situation through Your grace and wisdom. Would you make me unoffendable and quick to forgive so that by my responses, others will see and hear Christ in me?
Praise God that he is patient with you, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Thank God for his patience with you in aspects of life you are slow to let him change. Confess times of presuming upon his patience, and commit yourself to ready and diligent responses to his leading. Ask God to help you, as his image-bearer, to reflect his patience.
Pray that you and your network of family and friends will remember God’s standard: “Love is patient” (1 Cor. 13:4). Ask him to help all of you move that from thought to practice.
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend. Click on the title for more information about this resource.