This post is part of the #RealWomenPray online Bible study series: “Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, Strategic Prayer” by Priscilla Shirer.
”If I were your enemy, I’d use every opportunity to bring old wounds to mind, as well as the people, events, and circumstances that caused them. I’d try to ensure that your heart was hardened with anger and bitterness. Shackled through unforgiveness.” —Priscilla Shirer, Fervent
Turning Bitterness to Forgiveness
Unforgiveness is a strategy designed to cripple your prayers and your power to stand against the enemy. (Fervent, page 153)
“so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow…For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything…so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” 2 Corinthians 2: 7, 9, 11
The verses above speak about forgiving and comforting the one who has offended us so that we may be obedient and also so we are not outwitted by satan by being unaware of his schemes of unforgiveness.
So often we will forgive privately, inside ourselves, out of obedience but we don’t take that next step—forgiving openly, to the other person (bringing comfort) or to those around us.
When we refuse to display the forgiveness openly we are not putting forgiveness into action.
Soon a root of bitterness will burrow deep within us causing problems in our relationship with God.
And that is the strategy designed by the enemy—to cause a break in our relationship with God.
But when we openly display our forgiveness we not only free ourselves, but we free the other person, too. Instead of being bound to us through bitterness, we free them to be dealt with by God in whatever way He choses to move in their life.
This can be harder when the person we need to forgive has done unspeakable acts against us. But, when we forgive, we are not justifying the offense that took place. We are actually breaking the bondage of being a slave to the hurt that person caused in our lives. If we choose to be unforgiving, we choose to stay connected to the offender and, in effect, choose to separate ourselves from God. This decision allows bitterness to begin to grow that will eventually choke out our spiritual life.
Bitterness that has not been dealt with in many years can even manifest itself through physical and emotional issues in our bodies.
Unforgiveness is a serious risk to take—both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
”Unforgiveness is [the enemy’s] design to ‘outwit’ you—to keep you not only bruised and bleeding but unable to experience any power in your prayers or intimacy with your Father.” (page 157)
Forgive anyway—so you can be free, whole, and fulfilled
”If you feel utterly, hopelessly, intolerably resistant toward forgiving this person or these people who’ve offended you, don’t consider yourself a random victim. The devil is behind this.” (page 157)
The anger and bitterness will give the enemy an open door to our heart. He won’t be happy just to run around in the heart. He wants us to be so devastated in our emotions and our mind that he will remind us of the offense every chance he gets, knowing how raw and deep the hurt that it will cause us to change our thoughts towards God.
The enemy wants nothing more than to paralyze us with hurt, anger, and bitterness that we no longer resemble ourselves.
“But Jesus…wants [us] free” (Fervent, page 159)
Matthew 6:12-14; 18:21-35
Jesus requires us to forgive. He even teaches us how to pray for forgiveness and He connects our forgiveness with our ability to forgive others.
We can not give what we don’t have.
The only way we are able to forgive others is because we are first forgiven by our Heavenly Father.
In verse 35 of Matthew chapter 18, Jesus says we are to forgive “from your heart”. Forgiving is a heart issue. We must forgive from our heart.
It is so much easier to say than do. Forgiveness out of obedience will eventually lead to forgiveness inside your heart. It isn’t until you are able to let go of the hurt with your heart that you will find true freedom.
Forgiveness is allowing freedom to take place in our own life. It is letting go of being in charge of punishing the other person and allowing God control of their life.
When we give our offender over to God, He is able to deal with them much more effectively than we ever could.
Besides, chances are, we are more miserable holding on to the hurt than the offender is. But when we give it to God, He lifts us out of the muck of anger and bitterness and is able to bring the situation to the surface in the other person’s life.
Only then is God about to heal us and bring true freedom to our lives.
”don’t expect to experience freedom, peace, or rest from your anger until you [forgive].” (Fervent, page 163)
Make a list of hurts and/or unforgiveness you may have in your heart.
*Ask God to show you scripture that deals with forgiveness & the specific issues that caused the hurt in your life.
*Spend time writing out very specific prayers to deal with the anger and bitterness this situation may have caused.
Please note that dealing with past hurts, specifically when they pertain to abusive situations, can be extremely painful and cause intense spiritual attacks or mental and emotional reactions. If you find yourself struggling with these types of issues, please seek the council of your pastor, local therapist, or organization near you that deal with traumatic life issues.
Let’s chat: Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
CALL TO PRAYER
Ask Jesus to show you any unforgiveness in your heart. Ask Him to help you forgive, even if this is a step of obedience. Ask God to help you receive the forgiveness from your heart. Pray for the person(s) who hurt you. Ask God to deal with them according to His will.
Write out your prayer using one of the suggested scriptures in the book or choose another scripture that speaks to you. Use the P.R.A.Y. points on pages 21-22 to help you write personal, specific prayers.
Jesus, we thank You for Your forgiveness given to us so freely. We thank You for Your grace and mercy to cover our sins, both in the past and in the future. Lord, help us to forgive the people that have hurt us. Help us to find forgiveness toward them for the pain they have causes. Lord, heal our emotions, our minds, and our hearts. Help us not to become angry and bitter. Father, in those places where we have allowed bitterness to grow, give us the knowledge and the strength to let it go and give it to You. Help us not to hold on to the offense as our identity, but give us Your Word to show us who You created us to be. We pray for freedom in our lives. We pray You will deal with the one that hurt us. Have Your will in their life. Help us to trust that You are a just God and You will make right all that was wrong about this situation. Jesus, thank You for the freedom You are bringing into our lives. We love You and we trust You. In Your Name, Amen.