Have you been hurt in church? Are you ready to follow Jesus as He helps you receive healing from church wounds, so you can be rightly connected to His Body of believers again?
If you aren't sure yet, please read the first two posts in this series before proceeding:
In those first two posts of this series, we talked about how the Bible says the Lord Himself will put a drought on your life if you're not rightly connected to, and serving, His house. We also talked about how to properly respond when people do things in church that they shouldn't–a lot of which has to do with facing the truth, and not burying your head in the sand.
Please be sure you check out those posts before you start on this one, because the truths in those posts are extremely liberating.
But after you have identified the problem and faced the truth about everyone involved in the situation (including the truth about yourself and the truth about the enemy as well), it's time to move to the next step.
The next step to healing from church wounds is to forgive–in a very specific way.
In order to forgive effectively, it's necessary to pray through a prayer of forgiveness. This is called “casting your burdens upon the Lord,” and you can learn a whole heap more about this in my recorded video class, Finding Deep Soul Healing 101.
Forgiving any other way doesn't work. In other words, saying “I forgive you” or “I forgive them” doesn't work. 🙂 You may have the best intentions, but if you try to forgive that way, you will still hurt. You can even think that you've forgiven, but you will still hurt. You can sincerely feel zero malice in your heart toward those who hurt you–but you will still hurt.
In order to experience the healing power of true forgiveness, you have to cast your burdens upon the Lord.
I'm going to share a sample of a very effective forgiveness prayer below. But before I get there, let's look at a couple of very important truths:
1. Forgiveness does NOT mean that what they did was okay.
It is never okay to hurt one another.
2. Forgiveness does not mean that the people who hurt you were right.
Even if they are very, very wrong, however, you still have to forgive. In Matthew 6:14-15, Jesus said very plainly that God will not forgive your sins if you will not forgive the people who hurt you. This passage says:
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14-15).
The only way you can escape from the prison of pain and enter into the freedom Jesus purchased for you is to forgive. Forgiving those who have hurt you and failed you sets you free. It is one of the most important, foundational steps in healing from anything.
Forgiveness heals pain. It opens the door of your heart to receive the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It breaks down the bars that have imprisoned your soul, and allows the love and healing touch of Daddy God to come flooding in. In many cases, forgiving someone can even set you free from the memories of the situation.
3. Forgiveness does not mean that the people who hurt you were wrong.
It is possible that your actions could have been the problem, not theirs. That's something I asked you to examine with the Lord in the last post.
However, perceived wrongs actually hurt just as badly as actual wrongs. Even if someone didn't actually do something bad to you, if you THINK they did, it will hurt you just as badly as if they actually did the thing. It's all about what your mind perceives.
4. Forgiveness does not mean you have to have a relationship with them going forward.
Forgiveness does not equal friendship, chumminess, or letting their stuff be on your Facebook news feed. Forgiveness does not mean you have to stay at the same church. You simply forgive to obey God, and you get free from the shackles of the past when you do so.
Related: 10 Reasons to Leave Your Church
5. Forgiveness does not mean there will be no consequences.
If someone committed a terrible crime against you, you have to forgive them in order to be right with God. However, they should still go to jail (if they committed a jail-worthy crime). Decisions have consequences, and God is just as much a JUST God as He is a merciful God. Righteousness and justice are BOTH the foundations of His throne.
6. Lastly, do not try to make excuses for the people who hurt you.
Saying things like:
- “I'm sure they did the best they could …”
- “They didn't mean to do it …”
- “It was a mistake, he/she was just mad and let their emotions run away with them …”
- “He's a good guy, but …”
- “They probably didn't mean to do that …”
- “I might have set her off …”
… WILL KEEP YOU FROM HEALING.
Do not make excuses for people's sin.
Right is right and wrong is wrong. Don't try to sugar-coat people's sin. The Bible says that men are altogether without excuse, because at the very least we have ALL seen the natural world God created–which testifies to men of a perfect and holy God. When people sin, they do so because they choose to. And if you try to make excuses or soften the sin, you will NOT be able to receive healing.
Remember the Word of the Lord in John 8:32:
“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
It's the simple, plain, unvarnished, un-sugarcoated truth that will set you free. The truth with love, yes. The truth with humility, yes. The truth with compassion, yes. But the TRUTH, nonetheless.
So with all those things being said, are you ready to receive healing from church wounds?
Forgiveness is not easy, but it is simple. Here’s how to do it:
1. Make a list of all those who have hurt you.
It’s okay if it’s a long list; don’t worry. When I first prayed through to forgive people and get free, I had to pray through a list that was pages long.
2. Be very honest and transparent with God.
Trust Him to help you get through each person or situation. Ask Him to help you forgive from your heart, just like Jesus forgives.
3. Pray through each person and situation using the sample prayer provided below.
The sample prayer below is the prayer I use when I work with hurting people in deliverance and inner healing ministry. I wrote this prayer to follow the specific instructions that Jesus gave us:
- To forgive from your heart. (Matthew 6:15: “But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses,” and Matthew 18:35: “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” [emphasis mine].)
- To repent for our own sin in holding onto bitterness and unforgiveness. (Ephesians 4:31-32: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”)
- To pray for those who have wronged us. (Luke 6:27-28: “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”)
When I help people through the inner healing process, I often hear them say:
“But I don’t want God to bless that person! Look what they did to me!”
If that’s what you’re thinking right now, I want to reassure you about something: when you pray for those who have hurt you, it’s not like you’re praying for God to give them a million dollars while they get away from their sin scot-free.
In my experience, when you pray for someone who has wronged you, God answers your prayer by treating them just like He would treat you. He tends to bless them with a little revelation and a lot of repentance, right along with any other blessings He may bestow. After all, He loves the person who hurt you just as much as He loves you, and it’s His desire for that person to become Christ-like too.
So, beloved, don’t worry about making sure that somebody else “gets theirs.”
You just obey God so you can get free yourself. If you will trust God and obey Him, He will take care of the rest as only He can. Remember that none of us deserve forgiveness; God only forgives us because Jesus Christ paid the price of our forgiveness with His own blood.
Therefore, you are forgiving those who hurt you because your Lord and Savior said to do so; and that is the only thing that matters.
After you make your list of people who have hurt you, pray through the prayer below for every person on that list. And where there is a blank (_____) in the prayer below, fill in the blanks with all the details you can think of from your own situation.
Pray this prayer out loud–and from your heart–to forgive and heal from church wounds:
Dear Heavenly Father, I come before You in Jesus’ name. Father, in Jesus’ name, I choose to forgive (name) for _____(list what they did).
Father, I also forgive them for (speak out any that apply; these are some common wounds I see/hear about):
- hurting me;
- maligning me;
- accusing me falsely;
- not saying good things to me;
- saying mean things to me;
- saying bad things to me;
- saying bad things about me;
- gossiping about me;
- not being willing to reconcile;
- not obeying Your Word about how they should act;
- lying to me;
- lying about me;
- ignoring me;
- excluding me from their group;
- being snobby toward me;
- only loving me if I met their conditions;
- expecting me to worship them and believe them over You;
- ignoring whatever parts of Your Word were inconvenient to them;
- not valuing me;
- not pulling me in;
- not noticing when my heart was broken;
- for killing me emotionally and spiritually;
- for attacking me;
- for failing to father me;
- for failing to mentor me;
- for accusing me falsely;
- for using me;
- for trying to control me;
- for not seeing the good in me;
- for not being willing to admit that You were breathing on me;
- for not being willing to admit that You were using me;
- for not utilizing my gifts;
- for their unholy favoritism, regardless of people's character;
- for manipulating me;
- for every way they tried to manipulate me, even if they didn't succeed;
- for keeping people down;
- for puffing themselves up;
- for being proud and arrogant;
- for not keeping their word to me;
- for not being upfront with me;
- for twisting the Scriptures;
- for teaching heresy;
- for mocking and maligning me;
- for mocking and maligning God's Word;
- for not being a godly example;
- for not equipping me;
- for every evil thing they did to me;
- for not doing good things toward me;
- for talking about me behind my back;
- for threatening me;
- for believing lies about me without bothering to find out if they were true;
- for not bothering to get to know me;
- for using me for my service;
- for using me for my tithes and offerings;
- for teaching and preaching heresy from the pulpit;
- for not giving me opportunity to grow or exercise my gifts;
- for failing to protect and defend me;
- for failing to defend the flock from enemy infiltration;
- for not having any discernment;
- for not caring about Biblical fruit;
- for not discipling me;
- for failing to value all the gifts in the Body of Christ, as the Bible says they should;
- for speaking word curses over me;
- for failing to speak blessings over me; and
- _______ (anything else that Holy Spirit lays on your heart).
Father God, I choose to leave it, let it go, and give up all resentment.
I hand these things to You, Heavenly Father, and I leave them in Your hands. Father God, in Jesus’ name, I confess that I have harbored bitterness, anger, hatred, unforgiveness, resentment, and so much hurt toward this person. Lord, I confess these things as sin, and I repent for them. I ask Your forgiveness.
Your Word says that if I confess my sin, You are faithful and just to forgive me my sin and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness. So thank You for forgiving me. Cover me and wash me with the blood of Jesus. Close any doors to the enemy that I opened through my sin. Fill me with the Holy Spirit, and make me like You.
Now, Father, I pray for (name). Forgive them for what they did. Cover them with the blood of Jesus. Wash them and cleanse them. Make them like You, and help them to know that You love them. Fill them with the Holy Spirit and draw them to Yourself. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
After you pray this prayer, stop and take a deep breath.
Rest. Pause. Focus on Jesus and let His life, His Spirit, and His healing wash over you.
If you forgave from your heart and also forgave for all aspects of the situation, then you will feel peace. You will generally also feel yourself taking an involuntary DEEP breath. This is a manifestation of Holy Spirit; He is the Ruach, the Breath of God.
If you don't feel peace yet, then pray and ask the Lord to show you:
- If you forgave from your heart–or not; and
- If there is any aspect of the situation left that you still need to cast upon Him in prayer.
He will show you if you ask; and He is the only one who can.
If the Lord shows you something additional–or if He shows you that you didn't really mean it from your heart–then ask Him for help. Then, go back and pray the prayer again.
Sometimes, you may have to pray two or three or 1,000 times. But, ask the Lord to help you cast your burdens upon Him–and He will.
Beloved, as you cast your burdens upon the Lord and forgive, inviting Jesus to fill you with His Spirit, He will. And when Holy Spirit fills you up in the place that used to hurt–the place that used to harbor bitterness, forgiveness, offense, hatred, resentment, anger, unforgiveness, and a spirit of murder–the pain will go away.
How do you know you have healed from all church wounds?
Two ways–and both are necessary:
- It will not hurt anymore–not even the slightest little bit; and
- It will feel as if the situation happened to someone else entirely.
Until you get to the place where it doesn't hurt anymore and it feels like it happened to someone else, there is still some truth you haven't acknowledged and something you haven't forgiven yet. Ask the Lord to show you what it is. Some things are so deep that only He can show them, but He is the great Revealer of secrets. He will show you!
Beloved, you can heal from church wounds.
You can heal quickly. You can heal so deeply that there will not even be a scar. You can be made totally new in one instant. It all depends on how readily you are willing to forgive from your heart. It also depends on how readily you are willing to listen to Holy Spirit as He guides you through this process.
My friend, the Lord wants you to be totally healed today, with no more delays. Jesus HATES what they did to you. He hates every effect of this sin-filled world, and He died for you to be totally healed and walking in victory and power. Will you stop, make your list of people you need to forgive, and cast your burdens upon the Lord today? He is there with you right now, ready to give you beauty for ashes.
Is this post hitting home with you? Is Holy Spirit already whispering in your ear about your healing? Leave a comment below–after you have taken time to listen to the Lord and cast your burdens upon Him first!