Well, this is a tough one, isn’t it? Why on earth would you want to pray for someone who’s hurt you, when all you really want is for them to pay for what they did?
Why would you pray for those who wronged you when they don’t seem the least bit bothered?
I’ve been through some deep, psychological pain at the hands of someone else, and the last thing I wanted was to go before God and pray for them.
I mean, why does God even want us to pray for them when they’ve done such awful things? Why does He expect something so painful from us?
The truth is…
- sitting in the pain and blaming them
- defining our life by what they did
- making it our life’s purpose to make sure everyone knows how wrong they were
…will only increase our pain.
But I suspect you already know that.
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What The Bible Says About Forgiveness
Jesus calls us to pray for those who hurt us, but He understands how difficult it is. In fact, He knows everything about us, so there’s no reason to hide our feelings.
But before we can even begin to pray for someone who’s been mean to us, we first need to understand what the Bible says about forgiveness.
One of the best places to begin is Ephesians, chapter 4. (In fact, I recommend reading the entire chapter.)
Verses 4:26-27 teaches us,
26 “And ‘don’t sin by letting anger control you.’ Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil.” NLT
All I want to do when someone hurts me is hold on tightly to that long list of wrongs. I dig my heals in and demand an apology, because by golly, that’s what I deserve, isn’t it?
Aren’t we entitled to our feelings of hurt and bitterness in these situations?
After all, they let us down. They weren’t the people they were supposed to be.
But the truth is, forgiveness isn’t about them.
Oh, that’s a tough pill to swallow, isn’t it?
How PrayER will prepare you for what God has planned
Forgiveness isn’t about the people who hurt us.
It’s about healing. They’ll help us grow and mature into the person God created us to be.
Praying for them is about freeing ourselves from the pain consuming our lives.
It’s about experiencing freedom from the bitterness coursing through our bodies, so we can be most effective in God’s Kingdom.
The thing is, friend, God wants to work on our hearts. He wants us to draw closer to Him.
And the only way to do that is by releasing our resentment.
Let God take care of working on their heart, and instead focus on growing closer to Him.
Oh, this isn’t easy. It’s not a one, and done decision.
It requires us to make a daily choice of dying to self; dying to the need to be right.
In the book, The Power of the Praying Wife, Stormie Omartian writes,
“We must long to do right more than be right, and to give life more than get even.”
How to have an attitude of forgiveness
The first step of learning how to pray for someone who’s hurt you is to work on your own heart — to develop an attitude and heart for forgiveness.
How do you turn the bitterness coursing through your veins into an attitude of forgiveness so you can pray for them?
You show up, and be honest with God.
There’s no need to sugarcoat it. Just tell Him how you feel.
Ask Him to give you an attitude of forgiveness
There’s something beautiful that happens when you’re honest with God; when you go to Him with your concerns, heartbreak, and even your anger.
“Gather strength from Him and rejoice in knowing that He is not waiting for your circumstances to improve. Rather He meets you right in the middle of your mess, taking every painstaking step with you! He is ready to provide you with everything you need to get through this.” Finding Peace in the Mess 30-Day Devotional and Prayer Journal
Since we know that God commands us to release our anger, we also know that we can lean into Him for the strength to do so.
In Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, Lysa Terkeurst writes,
“God’s Word is powerfully effective to cut through all my justifications to stay mad, prove my case, wallow in unforgiveness, and handle things in my flesh. It is possible to live a different way…But it will require God’s strength working in me. To receive more of His strength, I have to make room for more of His truth to fill my heart, mind and mouth…Humility invites in the strength of God. Pride crowds out the strength of God.”
We can’t expect to forgive someone and pray for this person without God and His great strength.
And the only way to gather and receive His strength is to show up and be honest with Him.
So we go to Him and ask for an attitude of forgiveness — even if we have to ask for it 389 times today.
And because Ephesians 4:26 teaches us that it’s a sin to carry our anger, we need to humble ourselves and ask for His forgiveness for indulging in the bitterness.
The challenges of having a heart of forgiveness
Having a heart of forgiveness is anything but easy.
I’ve spent many days asking God why He won’t open their eyes to the pain they’ve caused; why they can’t see how much they’ve hurt me.
I’ve sat diligently on my high horse, certain they had to be the one to change — to apologize.
I’ve clung to that long list of wrongs, and worn them around my neck like a badge of honor to justify to the world why I was so angry.
I wanted to prove that it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with them.
- They said hurtful things.
- They continue to treat me poorly.
- They are the reason for all my pain.
They, they, they.
But as I’ve learned through my own journey, the bitterness and hatred I felt for this person, didn’t stop at them.
I held so tightly to my grudges, that my resentment spilled over like oozing acid onto the lives of my loved ones.
And that’s the last thing I wanted, and I imagine it is for you too.
Oh, I get it.
You feel warranted to lash out; justified to “protect” yourself with a shield of anger. And the resentment towards the person who hurt you has left no one untouched by your rage.
Unfortunately, all it’s doing is turning you into something you don’t want to be. Hurting people the way you’ve been hurt.
WHEN PRAYER FEELS IMPOSSIBLE
Forgiveness and praying for someone who’s hurt you feels like one of God’s most unfair commands, and it’s so incredibly hard to walk through.
But when He commands something of us, He will always show up to help us through.
In Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, Terkeurst also writes,
“As we navigate forgiveness within the complexities of relationships where we’ve been deeply wounded and sometimes even abused, God’s command to forgive is not absent of His compassion and comfort.”
God will carry and comfort you, until you can stand on your own.
No questions asked.
Complete, unconditional love.
Prayer For Those Who Hurt You
I’m just going to be honest with you — when I first started praying for someone who hurt me, I didn’t want to.
My pain ran so deep, the last thing I wanted was to offer them grace.
So in the beginning, I simply started with “Lord, I pray for this person.”
Every day, I continued to pray that simple little prayer until my heart began to change.
So today, my friend, just start with, “Lord, I pray for this person.”
The Holy Spirit Will Pray For You
I know when you’re stuck in a hard place like unforgiveness, it’s difficult to come up with the right words to pray for someone who’s hurt you.
The beautiful thing is God has given you The Spirit to live within you; who’ll intercede on your behalf.
“So because our hope is set on what is yet to be seen, we patiently keep on waiting for its fulfillment. And in a similar way, the Holy Spirit takes hold of us in our human frailty to empower us in our weakness. For example, at times we don’t even know how to pray, or know the best things to ask for. But the Holy Spirit rises up within us to super-intercede on our behalf, pleading to God with emotional sighs too deep for words.” Romans 8:25-26 TPT
All you have to do is ask.
“Lord, I confess I don’t want to pray for this person. My pain runs deep, but I will obey your command and strive to walk in forgiveness. Holy Spirit, I ask that you intercede for me. Lift up the prayers that I can’t right now.”
This particular prayer is honest, and shows that although you’re hurting, you have a heart and attitude for forgiveness.
Prayers for Forgiveness and letting go
As you choose to walk in forgiveness (even when you don’t want to), God will begin to change your heart.
This is when your prayers for someone who’s hurt you can go deeper.
“Lord, I know you want me to pray for this person. You already know how difficult this is for me and at this point, I still don’t want to (remember, you don’t have to sugar coat it. He already knows). But Lord, I pray for your will in this person’s life. Please give me eyes to see them from your perspective, and an attitude of forgiveness. Grant me patience while you work this out, and show me how to be the loving Christian you’ve called me to be.”
I pray this every day, and ask Him to help me see them through His eyes.
After all, even though we’ve been hurt, God wants to redeem this person too. (And that’s a tough one to swallow, am I right?)
In every difficult situation, I ask…
- For eyes to see them through His perspective
- Him to reveal what I need to learn in this
- For wisdom to grow and learn throughout this challenge
How Prayers on forgiveness will CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Do you want to know what happens every time I start to pray for someone who’s hurt me?
Jesus helps me see them through His eyes.
I begin to see a person who’s struggling, just like me. Someone who’s living in this fallen world and needs forgiveness and grace — just like me.
Oh, this doesn’t come easy, and it’s typically not quick. (Especially when we’re stubbornly holding onto grudges.)
But when these revelations come, they’ll completely change your life.
You’ll begin to feel those chains of unforgiveness falling away.
WHAT PRAYERS ON FORGIVENESS WILL REVEAL TO YOU
Did you catch that?
The other thing that happens is that God will reveal my role in the situation.
It bears repeating…I see what I’ve done wrong in this situation.
Like allowing anger to control my life; allowing it to pour out on others as I fight to point out all the ways this person has hurt me.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that He’ll also reveal something beautiful (and probably hard) in your pain. Because that’s what our God does!
But you must be willing to open your eyes and see it.
Remember, the three most important words you’ll ever say is “Change me, Lord.”
And holy moly! It. Is. Humbling!
You set out to pray for someone who’s hurt you and before long, Jesus teaches you something more about yourself!
Let me tell you it’s one of those “whoa moments.”
One where it feels like he just picks you up and says, “Hey, listen up! You’ve got something to learn here too.”
Growing Closer to God Through Forgiveness
The truth is, my friend, learning how to walk in forgiveness, just can’t happen without a relationship with God.
I know that sounds bold, but until you understand who you are, whose you are, and why you were created, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle that’ll never allow you the freedom from this pain.
In my FREE 4-Steps to Grow Closer to God, I help you forge a relationship with God — even in the midst of your pain.
HOW TO Pray for someone who’s hurt you
Believe me, I don’t have it all figured out.
I’m a work in progress, just like you.
However, as Christians, He calls us to love unconditionally. To allow His great love and mercy to shine through us.
And until we free ourselves from the pain and bitterness of past hurts, there’s no room for us to do what we were called to do — to make Him known and bring Him glory.
So the next time someone hurts you, go to Jesus first. Open your Bible before you open your mouth.
Ask God for help — to see them through His eyes.
Then God’s Light will shine brightly, and will lead the way to something far more beautiful — healing and restoration.
Are you willing to learn today — to be changed for the better because of this?
Most importantly, I ask, are you ready to heal and let His Light shine brightly through you?
If you answered yes to this, then and only then, will you learn to not only pray for someone who’s hurt you, but you’ll learn to shine for Jesus!
And let me tell you, it’s the most incredible feeling in the world!
Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today.
My prayer for you is that you’ll learn to find freedom from the chains of unforgiveness, and discover all God has for you on the other side of your pain.
Until next time, my friend…
P.S. Don’t miss out on a single post, sign-up for my newsletter below and get every post delivered right to your inbox.
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Learning how to put our complete trust in God isn’t easy. We say we trust God, but what we really mean is that we trust Him for what we want, when we want it. At Footprints of Inspiration we uncover who you are and why you were created; how to walk in healing through forgiveness; and how to go before the Lord with confidence. Through this journey, you’ll discover that it truly is possible to experience peace, even in the hardest times in your life.
Tammy Rotzoll is the founder and owner of Footprints of Inspiration and podcast host at A Faithful God Podcast (which can be found on your favorite podcast player). She lives in Virginia with her husband and together they’re learning how to navigate their fun, new adventure as empty nesters.
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