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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.


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2 thoughts on “A Prayer about Old Pain and Fresh Forgiving”

  1. Phil Roberts says:

    Thank you for this prayer of forgiveness. I have struggled with bitterness toward a rebellious daughter. I desire to forgive her from my heart and have our relationship restored. I know that only my one true Father can enable me to forgive this hurt. Help me God to forgive as I have been forgiven.

  2. Linsey says:

    So well timed. Thank you, Lord. And thank you, Scotty. Thank you for your obedience to write this today. I’ve had some new friends brush up against some old wounds this week…wounds they didn’t cause and wounds they didn’t know were there. I recoiled and instinctively wanted to pull away, but the Lord has met me with fresh forgiveness…for myself and for old friends who have been part of the wounding. I want what HE wants for me: FREEDOM! Love what you said about being a doorway, not a doormat.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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