This post is part of a prayer challenge, 21 Days of Prayers For Your Friends. If you would like more information about the full challenge with daily email prayer guides, I invite you to find it here.
It has been said that “Resentment, bitterness, and self-pity build up inside our hearts and eat away at our spiritual lives like a slowly spreading cancer” (Jerry Bridges).
My husband has survived cancer, and while the battle was really and truly one of the most spiritually flourishing times of our lives, cancer is still not something I would wish on anyone.
But what’s much worse than cancer of the body is cancer of the soul. And for a great many people (some of whom are Christians), that cancer comes in the form of bitterness.
Perhaps the saddest thing about this cancer that hardens our hearts and consumes our souls is that we don’t have to hold onto it.
We can let go of that cancer and release ourselves from its bondage, by simply choosing to forgive.
Contrary to popular belief, forgiveness isn’t about forgetting, so let’s not fool ourselves with that empty platitude. It’s also not about trying to talk ourselves into believing that the person who wronged us doesn’t deserve to be held accountable.
When you get right down to it, forgiveness is simply about letting go of our hard-heartedness toward those who have sinned against us, because we know we can trust God to dispense an infinitely better justice than we could ever hand down.
And ultimately, the one who benefits the most from forgiveness is the person doing the forgiving.
Who wants to hang onto soul cancer, after all?
I know you don’t want your loved ones to hold onto the cancer of bitterness. Would you join me in praying the Scriptures over your friends, asking the Lord to grant them a forgiving heart?
Prayers For Your Friend to Have a Forgiving Heart
Ask God to grant your friend a desire to put all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander away from her, along with all malice. Pray that He would produce the fruit of kindness springing from a heart that’s tender, and that He would enable her to choose forgiveness, especially in light of all she has been forgiven. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Pray that your friend would have a sobering awareness of Jesus’ statement: “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15) Ask God to not let her forget the many times she has required forgiveness – not so she will live in self-condemnation, but rather so she will remain humbly aware of her obligation to extend forgiveness to others as freely as she has received it.
Implore the Lord to remind her of her identity as one of God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, and that this awareness would prompt a heart full of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with others and forgiving them just as she has been forgiven. Pray that above all else, she would put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Ask that His grace would compel her to let Christ’s peace rule in her heart and her relationships, as she is part of the Body of Christ. (Colossians 3:12-15)
Acknowledge to the Lord that the effectiveness of your friend’s prayers may be hindered by unforgiveness. Ask Him to help her live in a spirit of forgiveness toward others, so her Heavenly Father may forgive her sins. (Mark 11:25)
Pray that she would strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. Pray that God’s grace would prevent any root of bitterness from springing up and causing trouble, causing her defilement and potentially spreading to others, as well (Hebrews 12:14-15).
Ask God for miraculous grace that releases your friend from her need for vengeance. Pray that she would live by the following instructions from God through the apostle Paul: “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)
If you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to sign up for the rest of the prayer challenge! It will be a source of blessing in your life (and your friend’s life) as you continue to pray the Scriptures over her.