“THE MOST POWERFUL PRAYER!”
"Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34 (ESV)
Father forgive them…
the most powerful prayer on earth
… life-changing words
… maybe words that you are not yet able to say
But words that will change your life.
These words have changed my life.
But they don't deserve it...
…and I don't want to.
I don't deserve it....
…and I can’t.
Forgiveness doesn't make sense –
Until you realize it’s not a choice, but a command.
Until you understand that it’s an act of love and not an act of justice.
Until you realize that you are hurting yourself.
Until you realize you are robbing yourself of freedom.
Many years ago, I spent several months praying a version of those words for a hurt we were going through. The pain of betrayal, loss of trust and friendship ran deep. We had never felt so low and alone. Learning to forgive was like agonizingly peeling away layers of an onion. Over months and years, the onion became smaller and the lessening of the pain was evident. Time brought healing. Each time a memory rose to the surface was another opportunity to forgive. Slowly the onion vanished.
The pain is now gone and forgiveness is complete. Today, I can look the offenders in their eyes without getting tense and hot. I am thankful that God intervened to make all things good.
How about you?
Have you ever been betrayed, injured, insulted, or taken advantage of?
Perhaps you have been robbed of a purchased possession.
Or maybe it was a stolen possession that cannot easily be replaced, such as your reputation, sexuality, time, health, children, or family.
Any of these offences can fill our minds and hearts with legitimate anger and hatred toward the offender, and even at God for allowing it to happen. Perhaps the offences were the results of our own mistakes that we are not willing or think we can forgive. By holding onto our anger and hatred, we become captive to the bitter feelings and eventually repress them. We bury them in the caves of our minds.
These caves become chained shut and keep us in bondage.
As painful as our past may be, it cannot be changed. What has happened has happened; the facts cannot be changed. Our attitudes, however; can be changed from anger and hatred to forgiveness.
Jesus’ way is for us to turn our caves over to God so that we can receive freedom. God has promised to deal with those who have hurt us; it's not our responsibility.
And God says, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back …" (Deuteronomy 32:35, Hebrews 10:30 NLT)
Our responsibility is to pray the most powerful prayer on earth - "Father, forgive them…" Luke 23:34
If we choose not to forgive those who have hurt us, we put ourselves under their control and we hinder God’s ability to heal us and set us free. So, we must forgive others and ourselves for our past mistakes and allow God to clean, heal, and restore the barricaded caves in our minds. Allowing God to pay our debts is one of the greatest benefits of Christianity, because when we do, real healing takes place.
A stolen possession that can cause deep wounds is our reputation and it can be very hard to keep quiet when we are criticized or falsely accused. But that's exactly what Jesus did when his reputation was stolen and when he was falsely accused by the chief priests, scribes, and elders. Jesus kept quiet.
Isaiah 53:7 (NIV) states "He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; Like a lamb that was led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before it's shearers, so he did not open his mouth."
Not only did Jesus command forgiveness; he also demonstrated it when he prayed, "Father, forgive them…"
Jesus knew that forgiveness frees, and he wants us to be free from the bondage of un-forgiveness.
As Peter Horrobin states in his book, "The Most Powerful Prayer on Earth", "Jesus may have been crucified on the strength of the false accusations of his accusers, but three days later it was God himself vindicated him!"
“And the only way for us to deal with those who try to steal our reputation is to forgive them, keep on doing what is right, act with humility and integrity, and trust God with the outcome.”
If we choose not to forgive others, we risk not being forgiven by God. In Matthew 6:15 (NIV) Jesus said, " But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." In other words - if we do not forgive those who have hurt us, then our Father in heaven will not forgive us! Yikes!
Forgiveness of sin is the greatest possible blessing that God makes available to his children; but if we are not willing to forgive others, we miss out on God's best for our lives.
On this Good Friday and this time of the year when we purposefully engage in spring cleaning, may I encourage you to take the opportunity to also do some soul cleansing. Think of the forgiveness Jesus extends to us daily. Forgive, let go, release past relationships, forgive yourself of disappointments, and move on in love.
Letting go makes room for what is yet to come.
May you be able to experience the joy of true forgiveness this Easter.
By: Julie Hogeboom