When you you’ve been hurt by other people’s mistakes, the pain goes deep, but God will empower you to forgive if you pray for his help to do so. Here’s an example of how to pray for the power to forgive:
“Dear God, the pain of what happened to me when [mention the details of your situation] hurts so much that it’s on my mind every day. The way [the person who hurt you] treated me wasn’t right, so I know you understand the anger I feel about it. Since you’re a just God, you get made at injustice, too. You don’t just ignore sin; you notice it, and you care about it. But you don’t let problems prevail. You always send solutions, because your unlimited power of good is much greater than the limited power of evil. I can’t deny the fact that one of the main ways you right wrongs is through forgiveness.
I know you’re calling me to forgive in this situation. But I confess that I don’t really want to forgive. It feels good to hold a grudge or seek revenge; it makes me feel powerful. I want to take back my power, since I felt so powerless when I got hurt. Remind me, God, that the only successful way to do that is through forgiveness. Although holding on to bitterness can make me feel better right away, it poisons my soul more and more the longer I remain bitter. Forgiving will likely make me feel worse when I start the process, but afterward it will make me feel better than bitterness ever can, because it will heal my soul. Just like a surgeon’s knife has to cut into physical wounds to heal them, you have to cut into my spirit to bring the changes necessary for me to forgive. I give you my permission to operate on my soul. Please help me break free from the burden of bitterness so this situation that hurt me in the past won’t continue to hurt me in the future.
God, I choose to forgive [name the person] for [name what he or she did to you]. Whenever the memory of that situation comes into my mind from now on, I will trust that person to you, knowing that you will keep working in his or her life. I trust you to bring something good out of that bad situation, as well, so that ultimately it can lead to something positive in my life. Please transform my pain into strength.
If the person I’m forgiving apologizes to me and changes his or her behavior, please help me reconcile our relationship and move forward to rebuild trust between us. But if the person isn’t sorry or doesn’t change, help me set up healthy boundaries to help prevent being hurt in the same way by the same person again. Regardless of whether or not we reconcile, I pray for only the best for [name the person you’re forgiving]. Help him or her learn from the mistakes, grow closer to you, and be blessed in the process.
Thank you for always forgiving me for my mistakes when I ask you to, God. Thank you for helping me to forgive others as your powerful love works through me. Amen.”
Whitney Hopler works as Communications Director at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being (CWB) and has written for many media organizations, from About.com to the Washington Post. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and connect with CWB on Twitter and Facebook.