But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:25-26 (NLT)

It’s tucked away, almost hidden, within Jesus’ teaching on prayer. The disciples were looking for answers. Jesus had just stated that using the power of prayer the disciples had the ability to move mountains. Then, almost as though He read their minds He answered a question that hadn’t been answered.

It’s as if one (or more) of the disciples was thinking: “I pray. I have faith in you. I believe. I don’t want to move mountains. I just want to understand my kids!” Jesus tells them that to have real power, to see God move mightily in your life and in the lives of others around you, here is the secret. Forgive.

Unresolved conflict and anger bind us and our prayer lives. When we harbor grudges, judgmental attitudes and a critical spirit against someone else it keeps Gods power from manifesting itself through us.

It’s interesting to note what Jesus doesn’t say in this passage. He doesn’t tell the disciples to “Go and have a conversation with the person and tell them you forgive them.” His statement concerns His followers DURING their prayer time. While they are praying, during the very process of their time with the Heavenly Father, forgive.

Forgiving others does not condone what they have done to you. If you have been abused, especially emotionally, the abuser won’t admit to anything anyway. It doesn’t require any action on the part of the perpetrator of your wound.

Forgiveness of others is between you and God. No one else needs to be involved. While there may be times when God will eventually lead you to confront the person you need to forgive, it really is an agreement between you and your Heavenly Father to release yourself from their grip of hate, anger or pain.

Forgiveness frees you. When you are angry at someone, it could be because of some intentional act on their part, or something that they did unintentionally, it causes a wound that refuses to heal. Forgiveness is a healing salve that comforts and soothes. Forgiveness is for your benefit, not the benefit of anyone else.

Forgiveness is humanly initiated, yet supernaturally accomplished. Sometimes the pain we endure is so great that we have to come to the Father over and over again to confess our inability to let go of the pain that was caused. The first step to healing is to confess our pain and anger to God and ask Him to empower you to forgive. From that point forward it is His working in you, and in the situation to free you from the horrific bondage of a wounded soul.

Forgiveness takes time. It isn’t some magic oil that you apply once to the wound and it’s gone. When you bear a grudge or have been hurt in some way it is like a physical wound, in some cases worse than that. Just as the wound take time to heal, forgiveness takes time to work its way through the pain. Be patient. Don’t allow the abuse or mistakes of your past to imprison you. Let the healing salve of forgiveness free you for all God has in store.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I never thought I’d have to admit to you that I harbor hatred towards others. Some of my hatred is because of what has been done to my loved ones. Some of it is because of direct or indirect attacks from others. Some of it, I confess, is a result of my inability to remember that I’m your child and I’ve allowed others to attack who I am in you. Help me to forgive. Empower me with your Spirit today to free myself from the prison others have me in. Show me grace so that I can show it to others. Thank you for loving me. Amen.