We have talked quite a bit recently about healing from church wounds. Today, I invite you to pray through the final step with a sample prayer to forgive the Church as a whole.
Every Christian is called to be a connected part of the Body of Christ in the local church, according to Scripture. However, it's hard for people to connect with a local church if they are nursing past church hurts.
If you're just now tuning in to this series, please be sure to read all the other posts on this topic:
- How to Respond When You Get Hurt in Church;
- When Going to Church Hurts; and
- How to Forgive the Church for Hurting You.
The last step in the process of healing from church wounds is to forgive the Church as a whole.
In the Bible, the Church is described as the Bride of Christ. It's almost like, in our togetherness, the Church body takes on a personality of its own. Similar to how a corporation, when formed, takes on many of the rights and obligations of an individual human person, the Church is often perceived as a “person” unto itself.
And as such, many people harbor pain, woundedness, and even a grudge against the Church as a whole.
We can forgive all the people who hurt us all day long. We can feel a huge measure of relief in our hearts and even experience a significant alleviation of pain. But until we forgive the Church as a whole–just as if it were another individual person who harmed us–then the healing process will not be complete.
There's no question the Church has sinned in many ways.
As beautiful as the Body of Christ is, we are not perfect. If a sin is scandalous and public, then the offense is obvious. But even if our sins are not the scandalous sort, we are still far from perfect. We still need our Heavenly Father to conform us to the glorious image of Christ, transforming us from glory to glory, faith to faith, and strength to strength.
But in whatever way the Church has hurt us, if we want to live healed, whole, and free in Christ Jesus, we have to forgive.
We must forgive the Church and the mentors, brothers, sisters, and leaders who have failed us.
To be free, we must forgive them for their sins—both for their sakes and for our own. We've already discussed how to forgive the individual people. But today, we're going to pray together and forgive the Church as a whole for its sins.
Will you stop right now and forgive the Body of Christ?
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you forgive like Jesus forgives. Then, pray this prayer with me for each person on your list, one at a time:
Heavenly Father, in the Name of Jesus, I choose to forgive the Church as a whole for _____. I choose to forgive the entire Body of Christ; I forgive the Church organization and every denomination that has hurt me. I choose to forgive the Church–and all of my leaders, brothers, and sisters–for every time they have failed me personally. I choose to forgive all offenses that I have taken up when these people have failed me.
Heavenly Father, I choose to leave these offenses, let them go, and give up all resentment.
I confess that I have sinned in allowing myself to harbor offenses, bitterness, and unforgiveness. I repent of my sins, and I ask You to please forgive me. Please cover me with the blood of Jesus, wash me, and make me clean. Fill me with the Holy Spirit where those things were, and bless the people and churches that have hurt me.
Father, I humbly ask that You would forgive us, the entire Body of Christ, as well.
Forgive us for every time we have failed to demonstrate Your heart for one another. Cover us with the blood of Jesus. Cover us with your goodness, mercy, and grace. I choose to bless the Church, its leaders, all of my leaders past and present, and all my brothers and sisters in Christ. I choose to love them. Please take away the old spirit from our hearts, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit. Remove our stony hearts and give us Your heart.
I ask, Father, that from today forward you would teach us how to be the true Church that Jesus built. Teach us how to walk in love and unity for Your name's sake. Let us walk as true disciples of Jesus, and let the world know we are Christians by our love. In Jesus’ name, amen.
If you prayed that prayer, take a deep breath.
Do you feel better? Forgiveness always brings a healing on the inside, so I pray you can tell the difference.
And now, go forth and find yourself a good, Bible-believing, Bible-preaching church! Get connected, be faithful, and obey God with everything in you–including in joining yourself with the local church!
Is the Lord speaking to you about this message today? If so, leave a comment below! I love to hear what He is doing in your life!