Almost everyone has heard the phrase ‘forgive and forget.’
The problem is that forgiveness isn't always easy, especially when the grievance is considered by many to be unforgivable.
Being betrayed by a spouse or a parent, victimized by crime, or bullied harshly can cause a great deal of pain. Anyone who has been hurt deeply knows that it’s hard to focus on anything other than our own turmoil when we suffer from these wounds.
The problem with holding on to hurt is that it stunts our emotional and cognitive growth, leading to unhealthy relationships down the line. In order to heal these wounds, forgiveness can be an emotional salve.
In this article, we'll discuss the meaning of forgiveness and how to forgive. We’ll also give you four prayers of forgiveness that you can use to forgive and repent.
What does forgiveness mean?
The true definition of forgiveness is “to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw, or mistake.”
People often mistakenly believe that forgiving someone means:
However, when put into practice, forgiveness is letting go of anger, hurt, and vengeance.
In other words, forgiveness is showing mercy to the person who's wronged us, even when the wrongdoer doesn’t deserve forgiveness. After all, the Bible says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
It’s also important to keep in mind that forgiveness doesn’t mean that the offending behavior should be excused or forgotten.
Forgiveness often isn’t a simple process — it has many steps and often occurs in a nonlinear fashion. To forgive, it's necessary to understand who’s hurt you and how.
This may seem obvious, but despite what you may think, not every action that causes you discomfort is unjust. It's important to distinguish between what’s causing you pain and what’s just a simple irritation.
The good news is that forgiveness can heal emotional wounds.
Scientifically speaking, identifying the type of injury you suffer from and acknowledging it is a vital part of the healing process. For emotional healing, the more hurt you've experienced, the more important forgiveness becomes.
There are many Bible verses on forgiveness, but one that best sums it up is John 13:34:
“A new commandment I give to you that you love one another: just as I've loved you, you also are to love one another.”
This journey of forgiveness and self-discovery can be something you handle alone, or you can seek out the help of a therapist. No matter how you choose to look at your pain, be sure to do so in a safe and supportive environment.
The Bible says:
“If my people who are called by my name, humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I'll hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
If God is able to forgive all of our sins, then we become more like Him when we choose to forgive those who have harmed us.
There's been no shortage of people trying to wriggle out of a confrontation about something painful they did to someone else.
People who are insecure typically use denial and blame to escape having to admit their failures. Being humble is the key to experiencing forgiveness and healing. Embracing humility and truly apologizing for your actions can separate you from other prideful people.
Consider the three As: acknowledgment, asking, and action.
Acknowledge what you did wrong without making any excuses.
Whenever you tell someone, "I'm sorry, but…." you’re excusing your behaviors rather than taking responsibility, and often you put the responsibility on the person you wronged. The essence of humility is properly acknowledging your mistakes.
Ask for forgiveness from the person you’ve hurt.
The moment you acknowledge you were wrong, ask for forgiveness without any conditions or expectations. Rather than focusing on others' responsibility, consider your own.
Finally, take action to guarantee it'll never happen again and demonstrate it through your future actions.
The actions we take and the attitudes we adopt should speak for themselves. Over time, our apologies will start to sound hollow if we keep making the same mistake. Changing and growing is imperative both for the other person's sake and for your own.
A prayer of forgiveness can come in two ways: asking for forgiveness for ourselves or from others. Many different prayers address both of these types of forgiveness.
Here are four powerful prayers you can use to pray for forgiveness.
O Lord Father, all-powerful, and ever-living God, I thank You for even though I am a sinner, in the kindness of Your mercy, You've fed me with the precious body and blood of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. May it be a helmet of faith and a shield of goodwill. May it purify me from evil ways and put an end to my evil passions. May Your Holy Spirit bring me charity and patience, humility and obedience, and growth in power to do good.
O Christ, my Creator and Redeemer, Holy Spirit, Almighty Lord God, forgive the sins of all who are joined to me by friendship or blood, and for whom I pray, or have resolved to pray — and all Your faithful people. Deliver them from all evil, preserve them in all good, and bring them to eternal joy for Your honor and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Lord Jesus, for too long, I’ve kept You out of my life. I know that I am a sinner and that I cannot save myself. No longer will I close the door when I hear You knocking. By faith, I gratefully receive your gift of salvation. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for coming to Earth. I believe You are the Son of God and who died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Thank You for bearing my sins and giving me the gift of eternal life. I believe Your words are true. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, and hear my prayers for forgiveness. Amen.
Dear Lord, You are a forgiving and merciful Lord, abounding in love to all who call upon You. Thank You for granting forgiveness so freely to us who are so undeserving. I pray that You'd overwhelm my friend with awareness of how much they've been forgiven and that they'd be able to grant the same mercy to others who have wronged them. Open their eyes to the trap caused by bitterness, and enable them to find freedom by following Your example. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
Forgiveness is a gift that we can all share.
And while forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to continue seeing the person who hurt you, you should “...keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).