This is The next level series on Fervent Prayer. We are using the book Fervent by Priscilla Shirer, and I highly recommend you purchase it as a resource. You’re probably going to want a paper copy, because it’s one you will pull out again and again if you’re like me. We are going through the 10 most common strategies the enemy uses in our lives, and we are leaerning how to strategically pray so that we can combat those dealings in our lives. This is a deeper series that the previous one we went through. It’s spiritual warfare. Are you ready to go to war on this?
If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can find them here.
If I were your enemy, I’d use every opportunity to bring old wounds to mind, as well as the people, events, and circumstances that caused them. I’d try to ensure that your heart was hardened with anger and bitterness. Shackled through unforgiveness.
Your Hurts. Turning Bitterness to Forgiveness.
Unforgivness is a strategic design, crafitily implemented by your enemy to outwit you, to cripple your effectiveness in prayer and your power to stand against him victoriously. Which is why, if I were your enemy, I would do everything possible to keep you from forgiving anyone and everyone whos’ done you any wrong.
“Now if anyone has caused pain, you should rather turn to forgive. You should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to affirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything… so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are no ignorant of his designs.” 2 Corinthians 2:5,7-9, 11
Your enemy wants you long-term angry. And he will use even the lightest offense to do it. He wants you to be bitter. He wants you heart coated with the calluses of resentment, crippled by offenses from your past. Unforgiveness is his design to “outwit” you – to keep you not only bruised and bleeding but unable to experience any power in your prayers or intimacy with your Father.
Nobody needs to tell you how bad you’re hurting from the injustices in your life. Even people who’ve suffered similar abuses or offenses as yours could never completely understand how your objections feel. Yours are personal and private and seemingly impossible to forgive.
But forgive anyway. Not because it’s easy but because your enemy gets exactly what he wants from you otherwise. Forgive anyway. Not lightly and quickly but ferociously and fervently. Not only for the other person but mostly for you – so you can be free and full and whole and complete.
If you feel utterly, hopelessly, intolerably reisitant toward forgiving this person or these people who’ve offended you, don’t consider yourself a random victim. The devil is behind this. He’s been strategizing how to suck all the power out of your prayer life. Out of your whole life. He’s likely the same one who started the whole mess to begin with. The same one who stirred up enough sins in the other person to tempt them into doing whatever they did to you, into saying whatever they said to you, into feeling however they felt about you – perhaps how they still feel about you, even now.
Make no mistake, it is his doing. By specific design. Hurting you once wasn’t enough. Those times when the original incident happened, times when you were mistreated or betrayed or belittled – nooo, that level of pain just wasn’t quite enough for him. He wanted more. He wanted permanent loss. Personality change. He wanted to redefine how you thought about God, about yourself, about others, even about those people who truly love you and intend only good for you. He wanted you fixated and patterned in your thinking so that few things would seem more dear or desirable to you than paying them back, getting your revenge. He wants you lifeless. Comatose.
But Jesus… He wants you free. That’s what He created you for.
“Forgive us our debts”, He taught us to pray, “as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12), followed by a couple of verses later by this statement, “For if you forgive other for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” (vs. 14).
These words of Jesus suggest a connection between the way we handle others’ offenses against us and the way God handles our offenses against Him. Now the whole counsel of Scripture affirms that our salvation (our eternal security with God) is based solely on the work of Jesus on the cross. No action or inaction on our part (such as struggling to forgive someone who’s wounded you) can sever the covenant of grace He’s made with us. But something at least happens to our experience with the Father when we persist in holding others’ sins against them. Unforgiveness puts us in prime position for demonic influence and activity to take advantage of us. And anything that dampens or deadens the freedom that God’s mercy is meant to give us – can it really be worth holding onto?
God knows how to deal with sin. Our sin, their sin. When you choose to forgive someone, you’re not whipping their actions away as if the bad things didn’t happen, giving people a free pass from the harm they’ve caused. You’re just sparing yourself from the burden of working two extra jobs – being judge and jury for how justice is meted out in this situation. Why not let someone relieve you of the pressure – Someone who actually knows what He’s doing? And Someone who’s just waiting right now to talk with you about it?
His forgiveness, my friend… is freedom. Yes, His forgiveness. His forgiveness of you is what makes your forgiveness possible toward others. We’ve all been redeemed through the blood of Jesus. So there’s more than enough of His forgiveness around you to extinguish all the flames of rage, hatred, bitterness, or animosity your enemy may have ignited within you. Remembering what Christ’s redemption has done for you will make you eager to do it for another.
Genuine freedom and renewed fervency are waiting for you on the other side of forgivness. And the forgiveness you don’t have any desire to give right now can be amazingly enabled through prayer. When galvanied with the living truth of God’s Word, fervent prayer is the bucket that can dip down into the reserves of God’s strength and pull up all the resolve you need for releasing other people from what they owe you. He can produce the healing we so desperately need, before we continue down these same old broken roads that only end up hurting other people – children, grandchildren, people who had nothing to do with this matter at all.
If we want to be someone of serious, fervent prayer, the Scripture will always lead us here. To forgivenss. In some form. In some fashion. Forgiveness is God’s command. And it also comes with the promise that He will provide us the companion power to pull it off. Don’t expect to experience freedom, peace, or rest from your anger until you do.
God’s Word is what we will take into our prayer strategy – a strategy that absolutley ensures a benefit for you. Freedom. “It was for freedom that Christ set us free” Galatians 5:1. For freedom. He wants us free. To fan fresh air into the stagnant rooms of your heart. To sweeten the taste in your mouth where bitterness and unforgiveness have soured your appetite for spiritual things. To set… you… free.
So upon these truths, craft a prayer strategy of freedom and forgiveness…
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. Mark 11:25
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengence is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19-21
Do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil and opportunity. Ephesians 4:26-27
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. Hebrews 12:14-15
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in Heaven. Matthew 5:44-45
As those who have been chosen of Go, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentless, and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Colossians 3:12-13
If he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times saying, “I repent,” forgive him. Luke 17:4
…because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus. 1 John 2:12
The Father’s shoulders are broad enough for you to cry on, strong enough to absorb with compassion whatever you need to vent to Him from the depths of your broken heart. But they are also able to lift you from the quicksand of old hurts and wounds, setting your “feet upon a rock” and putting “a new song” on your lips. Psalm 40:2-3.