A Prayer about Old Pain and Fresh Forgiving
Then Peter came up and said to him [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.“ Matt. 18:21-22
Dear Lord Jesus, I’m running to you this morning with joy in my heart and knots in my gut. The joy is about the exhaustive forgiveness I have in you; the knots are about the costly implications of that same forgiveness. As I pray for myself, I pray for others with the same struggle I’m dealing with—the calling to love well in broken stories that just won’t seem to go away.
I’m still reeling from an encounter I recently had with an old friend, with whom I’ve shared a lot of life and no small amount of broken trust. That run-in was kind of like bumping a previously broken shin into the corner of a low-sitting coffee table. I winced with pain and wanted to scream. Even worse, I did harm to him in my heart—something And that’s just as that felt good in the moment, but now quite immature, on my part.
Jesus, I thought I was over the hurt. I thought I’d already forgiven him from my heart. I thought I was already healed. I thought I’d dealt with this thing a long time ago; but that’s, obviously, not the case. Out of sight might be out of mind; but it’s not out of my memory band of betrayal and loss.
So I come to you today for seventy-times-seven grace. I’m being held hostage by my own unforgiveness. Certainly the gospel is big enough and powerful enough to set me free. So I humble myself before you, Jesus. I may never enjoy the gift of my brother’s repentance, at least this side of heaven, but there’s no justification for me tying my repentance to his.
I’m to forgive him as you’ve forgiven me. It’s as simple and as costly as that. No, I’m not to be a doormat, but I am to be a doorway to the miracle of reconciliation. By the work of the Holy Spirit, I ask you to show me what that will entail in these next several weeks. Some broken relationships are less complex than this one. Some are no-brainers in terms of applying the gospel. But this one is different.
Jesus, you’ve promised me all the wisdom I need, and I’ll take it. But I also ask you for a great measure of determination, strength, and follow-through. Low-sitting coffee tables can morph into coiled rattlesnakes in time, and the venom of unforgiveness is just too toxic to ignore. Untie the knots in my gut with your liberating hands. So very Amen I pray, in your redeeming and restoring name.