Jump to Prayer FocusBible Text for Meditation: Romans 8:18-26
Key Verse: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26, ESV
I will never forget the date. It was October 8, 2010. It was a Friday evening, and I, a student at Andrews University, had joined a group in the church prayer loft to pray during an evangelistic series. At first, since I didn’t know anyone, I just knelt quietly on the sidelines, observing more than participating in the time of prayer.
After many people had prayed, one young woman surprised me by praying, “Lord, some of us are hurting tonight. I would like to confess that I am struggling with unforgiveness and anger in my heart. Please forgive me and help me to forgive.” Her prayer of honest heart confession triggered a ripple effect across the room, as others agreed. “Me too, Father, please forgive me for my anger against . . .”
I had anger and unforgiveness in my heart, as well, but I wasn’t ready to share with a bunch of strangers that just that week I had experienced a broken relationship that had left me raw and bleeding emotionally. The pain was too deep for words.
For a long time, as others continued to pray, I stayed silent before the Lord in my piety, unwilling to admit before my brothers and sisters that I too was struggling and in need of healing. However, as the spirit of humility and repentance continued to spread around the room, I felt more and more conviction from the Holy Spirit to surrender. At last I could stay silent no longer. “Please deliver me from my cup of bitterness,” I begged God. “Please remove this anger and grant me the gift of forgiveness.”
When I finally overcame my self-righteous piety and prayed aloud, admitting my need, it was as if the floodgates opened up within my soul, and my tears flowed freely. At last the dam had been broken, and there was relief followed by sweet peace. Giving my pain to God, while surrounded by the love of my brothers and sisters, was just what I had needed.
That evening of prayer has forever impacted my life.
Some of the deep hurts that we face with loved ones, in broken relationships, at our jobs, and in our churches, are unconscious and can ride below the surface unaddressed for years. Yet, if they are not acknowledged and surrendered to God, they can foster a spiritual coldness that numbs and hardens our hearts. Satan would like us to live in the chains of bitterness and resentment forever, but God calls us to unmask at His feet in all humility and confess the anger and unforgiveness that we hold toward others. Usually this happens alone in our private prayer closets, but sometimes we need the love of a body of believers to help us bear our burdens as we find this freedom (Galatians 6:2).
Although our pain may be deep, and we may not even know how to pray as we should, thankfully the Bible tells us, “The [Holy] Spirit helps us in our weakness. For [even when] we do not know what to pray for as we ought . . . the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26, ESV).
We all need to learn to let go and forgive. Ellen White writes that “bitterness and animosity must be banished from the soul if we would be in harmony with heaven” (The Desire of Ages, p. 310). Giving forgiveness to others is also a prerequisite for receiving forgiveness from God. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14, 15).
If we allow the Holy Spirit to do His work, God will remove the chains that bind us and make us free!
Heart Prayer Challenge:
Dear Heavenly Father, we as a people are broken and in need of Your healing power in our lives. Many of us have tried to bury our pain, our losses, our grief, and pretend that nothing is wrong, as we want to save face and protect our reputation, but inside we have deep resentment and bitterness. As we continue praying for our church, we ask that Your Holy Spirit would give us hearts of forgiveness toward those who have wronged us so that You can also forgive and completely cleanse us. Please strip us of all masks of pretense, pride, and human strength, and make us clean, empty vessels that You can fill with Your strength and power. We want to be channels that You can use to send forth a healing balm to the broken and hurting, but first, we ourselves must be healed. We must be set free. Thank You for hearing and answering this prayer. Thank You for setting us free. Amen.