Welcome to our annual Prayer Series! This year, we’re expanding on each of the different prompts that you’ll find in our prayer journal. No journal required to benefit from the practical tips you’ll find here, but if you’d like to check out our 2019 Prayer Journal Collection, click here! Today’s post was written by our Social Manager, Kara.
If you came here for the top four things to add to your morning routine, that’s not really what we’re talking about today, but I will let you in on one thing that is proven to add more peace and joy to your life… and it’s probably not what you’d expect! The truth is that all the self-care hacks in the world can’t give the same effects as doing some serious heart work. Bubble baths and daily affirmations can only get you so far before it’s time to dive a little deeper.
If you’re feeling worn and weary, it’s time to assess what’s going on inside. One of the areas we need to take a closer look at? Our relationships with others. We experience (and dish out) all kinds of hurts in normal daily life and just letting them sit there can be totally draining.
Maybe it’s just me, but the word “forgiveness” seems kind of elementary at first. Saying those three little words, “I forgive you,” was something my mom taught me as a child. But as we get older, we find that those simple words come a lot harder to us. Pride gets in the way and we’d rather keep the upper hand or ignore the situation and move on. Some gal’s face might be blaring in your mind as you’re reading this, or you might be thinking, “I seriously have no one to forgive right now,” but either way, stick with me as we do a little heart check, because sooner or later we’ll all need to hear this!
How do you react to the little things?
You know the lady that pulled out 15 ft too far and you couldn’t get around her to turn and then she had the nerve to honk at you because you were in the way? Asking for a friend. 😉 Or when your spouse left their dirty clothes on the floor for the thousandth time or that girl was 15 min late to your coffee date? Sure, you might smile and say, “Oh, it’s fine!” but when we stop and think about what’s actually going on in our hearts when those kinds of things happen… Yikes.
In The Finishing School, which includes a whole chapter on forgiveness, Val says that even though “there was no huge issue,” there was “a heart that had trouble understanding grace enough to forgive others.” Grace is something we’re called to live out every day and there’s no area too small that His grace shouldn’t touch.
PRAYER TIP: Ask the Lord to make you aware of your attitude as these little inconveniences pop up throughout the day. When you realize you’re getting all bent out of shape about something that means so little in the grand scheme of things, practice forgiveness by extending grace (not those mean thoughts or choice words!) to others.
What about big things?
As much as we’d like to stick to the little things, the reality is that there are infractions much bigger than that momentary traffic hiccup. Unfortunately, there are those things that get your blood boiling or have you crying in a heap on the floor. And sometimes we begin to wonder how we can possibly forgive. But before we go too far into that line of thinking we need to ask ourselves, “How could Jesus possibly forgive the things that we’ve done to Him?” The betrayal, the hate, the outright rebellion. And compared to what we have to sacrifice to forgive someone else, nothing compares to the sacrifice Christ made to forgive us. And yet there he was, blood streaming down his body, pleading for us to be let off the hook. (Luke 23:34)
But it’s not that the Lord just coaxes us into forgiving for our own good, He commands it: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32) Holding on to unforgiveness isn’t just unhealthy, it’s disobedience and not worth the strain that it puts on our relationships with the Lord.
PRAYER TIP: If you’re struggling to forgive, spend some time soaking in his mercies and meditating on how much He has forgiven you. Read through Romans 5:7-9 and ask the Lord to change your heart. Then get after it, friend. Yes, this is hard stuff on our own, but His grace is powerful.
Note: We can’t possibly speak to every kind of situation here, but just know that it’s between you and God how this forgiveness needs to take place, whether it needs to be verbally stated in person or committed silently before the Lord. Please don’t enter back into an unhealthy situation to make this confession.
What if I’m the problem?
Maybe as we’re talking about all this stuff, you’re realizing there’s a strain on a particular relationship and it’s not because of someone else’s wrong, but rather something you’ve done. How well I know that this can also keep you up at night!
James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
There are two things I love about this verse. 1) Asking for forgiveness is healing. It’s healing for the one asking and as an added bonus, I think it’s also healing for the one responding. 2) Admitting our wrongs and asking for forgiveness cleanses us from sin and refreshes our lives. I believe we are restored physically (check out Psalm 32:3) and spiritually as James points out that our prayer life is re-energized with new power.
PRAYER TIP: If you’re noticing a strain in your prayer life, consider whether or not you need to ask for forgiveness from the Lord or another person.
What blessings have you gained from being obedient in forgiving or asking for forgiveness? Share your testimony below!
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NEXT: Blank Spaces