One of the most powerful things we can do in our prayer lives is to implement Bible verses within our prayers. God’s Word is powerful and alive. As it says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” And it says in Isaiah 55:11, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” When we pray with Scripture, we are standing in agreement with God. We are aligning our hearts with His. In today’s post, I would like to walk through some examples that you can use in different situations.
1 – When facing something you don’t understand
Romans 8:28 is one of the most beautiful promises in the Bible. It tells us that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him. We will face many things in life that we do not understand. We might be quick to ask God, “Why?” But it would do us good to remember this verse and include it in prayer. We might pray something like this: Dear Heavenly Father, I don’t understand why this had to happen in my life. I admit it is painful to deal with. But I hand it over to You and remember that You knew this would happen. I trust what it says in Your Word, God. I believe that You work all things together for the good of those who love You. Thank You, Lord. I trust You and I hand this situation over to You.
2 – When worrying about the future
In Philippians 4:19, the apostle Paul is reminding the church of Philippi that God will supply their needs. It can be easy to worry about the things to come in our lives. Especially with the way the world has been in a state of chaos over the last year. This makes us worry even more about the unknowns that lie ahead. When these fearful moments hit, we can add the words from this verse into our prayers. We might pray something like: Dear God, I confess that thinking about the future brings on anxious thoughts. I don’t know what lies ahead, but You know. So I put my worries into Your hands. I know You will be there for me. And I know that You will supply all my needs from Your glorious riches. I trust You, God. Thank You for your endless love and care.
3 – When seeking the Lord’s protection
Psalm 91 is one of my favorite Psalms to pray for God’s protection. In fact, I try to remember to recite this daily over myself and my household. You can do this too by inserting your name and/or names of loved ones in place of the appropriate pronouns. For example, verse 2 says, “This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” You can insert the person’s name in this way: “This Bridget declares about the Lord: He alone is Bridget’s refuge, Bridget’s place of safety; he is Bridget’s God, and Bridget trusts him.” Now try it with your name or the name of a particular loved one that needs protection: “This _____ declares about the Lord: He alone is _____’s refuge, _____’s place of safety; he is _____’s God, and _____ trusts him.”
These are just a few examples of how you can implement Scripture into your prayers. If you are facing a particular concern, try to find verses that talk about that issue. If your Bible has a concordance, you may use it to find pertinent verses. Or you can also search the internet for verses that deal with the topic you need. For example, if you are in need of healing, you can search for “Bible verses about healing.” One excellent website that I love to use is openbible.info. They have lists of Bible verses related to hundreds of topics.
The Bible is such a powerful weapon that the Lord has given us. Once you add God’s Word into your prayers, you will walk away from your prayer time feeling more at peace. You will be reminded of God’s promises and His goodness. And you will feel confidence, knowing that Almighty God is by your side.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
When I think about different prayers in the Bible, one that comes to mind is from King Jehoshaphat found in 2 Chronicles 20. King Jehoshaphat was one of the kings of Judah. In this story that we are going to cover, Judah was facing an unexpected battle. The Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites came to wage war against Jehoshaphat (v 1). As you can imagine, this “alarmed” Jehoshaphat (v 3). But he immediately took action.
1 – God should be our first response, not our last resort
One thing that I love about this story is that in verses 6-12, Jehoshaphat promptly turned to God in prayer. When we are facing a difficulty, what is our first reaction? I fear that often times we either try to handle it on our own, or we turn to other people for advice. But God should be our first response, not our last resort. This also tells me that Jehoshaphat was already accustomed to seeking God in prayer. He already had a strong relationship with God, or he would not have thought to turn to Him first and foremost. So we too should strengthen our relationship with the Lord and strengthen our prayer lives, every single day. Don’t wait. Prayer should be as natural to us as breathing.
2 – Encourage prayer
Another thing I like about Jehoshaphat’s response is that he prayed publicly. As the king of Judah and ultimately a person of influence, this was a vital step to take. The people of Judah would look to the king to see what his response was. If he was fearful, they would likely be fearful as well. But he responded with faith, which brought faith to the people. We too can influence those around us to seek God in prayer, when we display strong prayer lives. This doesn’t necessarily mean we have to always pray publicly. In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus warns against praying in front of others for recognition. But it might be good for those in our household, especially our children, to see us pray. And we can also let others know how much we rely on God in our prayer lives, without having a boastful attitude.
3 – Rely on God’s strength
Jehoshaphat starts off his prayer in verse 6 by saying, “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you.” In these sentences, Jehoshaphat recognizes God’s strength and power. This is so important for us to remember when we are facing a problem. We often have fear because we are looking at our issues from a human perspective. We think that we have to face our difficulties in our own strength. But things look completely different when we remember that we have Almighty God beside us, and that we are relying on HIS strength and power, not our own.
4 – Remember God’s promises and God’s victories
In verses 7-9, Jehoshaphat goes on to say, “Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’”
In these verses Jehoshaphat is remembering that God promised the land where they are living to Abraham’s descendants. In other words, Jehoshaphat is saying, “Surely those who wage war against us cannot win this battle. You promised us this land, God.” When we are facing a battle, we too should remember God’s promises. Familiarize yourself with promises found in the Bible and memorize them. Keep God’s Word tucked in your heart. It would also do us good to remember battles that God has won in the past, either in our own lives or in biblical times. When we are facing something scary, we can remember all the times when God has saved us or His people before. Both of these will help us to face our struggles with renewed confidence. Keeping a gratitude journal and/or prayer journal would also be beneficial in this area.
5 – Seek God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection
In verses 10-12, Jehoshaphat prays, “But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
In these verses, Jehoshaphat is ultimately seeking God’s guidance, wisdom, and protection. This is something we should do every day, not just when facing a difficulty. Before our feet hit the floor, we should remember to hand our day over to God. We don’t know what we will face each day, but He does. And He can help us to take on whatever comes our way.
In the end, God defeated the armies that were coming to attack Jehoshaphat and Judah. In fact, they never even had to lift one weapon. This story is an amazing picture of God’s goodness and power. And this story is also a great reminder for us to seek God in prayer, not just when we are facing a battle, but every day of our lives. When we pray daily, we are growing closer to God and strengthening our walk. Then when we do face a difficulty, God will be our first response, not our last resort.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
Prayer is more than asking for things
It is a time of fellowship
It is a time to meet with our Savior
Of His living water we take a sip
We rest in His garden of goodness
He is waiting there to meet
Instead of saying we’re too busy
We sit for a while at His feet
Prayer is an open door to heaven
He hears our requests praises and fears
But it’s a two way conversation
If we take the time to hear
Prayer is a daily practice
Even all throughout the day
A way to connect with our Father
As He guides us and shows us the way
Jesus taught us to pray and never give up
His ways might not always be clear
We might not see results right away
But we are assured that He hears
Let’s take some time today
To connect with our Father above
It will bring us peace and comfort
As we take in His everlasting love
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. – Luke 18:1
Prayer is something that God has been laying on my heart a lot lately. It might seem obvious that prayer is something Christians do. But I fear prayer is often neglected and slowly falling away in many people’s lives. The world needs for us to stand up and become strong prayer warriors. I am going to be writing a lot about prayer in coming posts. I hope they will help encourage us all to “pray without ceasing” as we are instructed to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
Sometimes we mess up
But we keep on going
God’s mercy is great
And helps us to keep growing
We might make mistakes
But it shouldn’t bring us down
God’s arms wrap around us
And He pulls us off the ground
We all need grace sometimes
No one is without flaw
God is there to guide us
And love us all the more
I want to apologize for misspeaking a couple of weeks ago. When writing about the Lord’s Prayer, I said that the last line was not in the Bible. (“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.”) It is in some traditional versions, like King James. It just has been removed in many modern versions. I never want to misrepresent the Bible, so I thank you for your grace. And I especially wanted to bring it up because too often with blunders like that, I have a tendency to beat myself up. I bet I am not the only one. But the truth is that we are not perfect and we all make mistakes. But we don’t have to put ourselves down. Instead, we correct our mistakes, if possible. And then we should move on and let it go. I am so thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
If you know me, then you know I like Lent, Advent, a New Year, and any opportunity that has the potential to bring growth. Although Lent is now over for this year, I wanted to share a bit of what my Lent looked like.
Many people fast from something during Lent. The intent is to sacrifice something that you love in order to honor God. It is a way of saying that God is more important than anything else in your life. And it is also a way to lay aside things that pull your heart away from Him. Many people fast a specific food or beverage, such as sugar or coffee. Others might fast from things like radio or television, if they know they spend too much time on something like this.
These days are worse than ever when it comes to distractions. We have so many things at our fingertips to pull our eyes, our ears, and our heart away from the Lord. With our smartphones glued to our hands, it can be all too easy to get sucked into social media, games, streaming, Amazon, and so much more.
Personally for Lent, I did not get on social media. Also, I did not purchase anything online for myself, unless it was a necessity. And I was deliberate with what books I read during this time.
Ironically, my smartphone died during Lent, so I was forced to spend two days without one. It was a bit strange, to tell you the truth. I felt like I had lost a layer or protection, yet I also felt liberated. I appreciate the technology and having access to everything so easily. But I also know that I don’t want to feel tied to my phone.
Mainly I just tried to slow down and not do so much. I know you have heard me say this before. But I am bringing it up again, because it can be so easy to fall back into the busy trap. We don’t always realize how many distractions are taking our focus. The things that crowd our lives aren’t necessarily “wrong.” However, if they keep our eyes from the right things, then it might mean we need to reevaluate certain areas of our lives.
During Lent, or a time of fasting, we can also add things into our daily lives. Examples would be adding prayer time, adding in more Bible reading time, or adding in a devotional. During these weeks, I added in several things to my routine, which helped me to keep my mind in the right direction, and to focus on God.
During Lent I read a devotional called The 40-Day Social Media Fast by Wendy Speake. This book touches on so much more than social media. It touches on anything that might pull our hearts and attention away from God. I highly recommend it if you are planning any kind of fast. (This author also has a book called The 40-Day Sugar Fast, which I have not read. But I thought I would mention it, in case you are interested.)
I also worked through a Write the Word journal by Cultivate What Matters. These journals each have a specific theme. For each day that you work through the journal, there are pre-selected Bible verses. You look up the verse(s) and write them out by hand in the journal. There is also room to journal about what is on your heart and mind that day. In this space I usually wrote out a prayer pertaining to the Bible verse for that day. This journal helped me to spend time with God, in the Bible, and in prayer, in a fresh way. If you feel your time with God could use a boost, I highly recommend these journals.
During this time:
If you feel the lure of all the world has to offer these days, if you feel that some things could be taking your focus off of God, or if you feel that you want to draw closer to God, then I encourage you to prayerfully seek fasting or cutting back from anything that is keeping you from a wholehearted relationship with Him.
I love how 1 Thessalonians 4:11 says to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” That is my goal. I want to lead a quiet life. This allows room for the important things. There are things that leave our souls feeling parched and there are things that replenish our souls. I want to focus on the latter. I want to spend my days walking with God by my side. I want to grow closer to Him and become more like Jesus each day. I want to make God my default, not my last resort. How about you?
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
Lord, mold me like clay
In Your precious hands
Shape me into a masterpiece
For only You can
Lord, refine me like silver
Under Your watchful eye
Turn me into Your best work
Lord, hear my cry
Lord, make me more like Jesus
Your beloved and beautiful Son
Remove all the dirt from my life
I want to spread Your love to everyone
Lord, I give you my life
For your honor and glory
I give You free rein
Take over for me
My heart is in your hands
I know it is safe there
I trust you, Lord
As I put my life in Your care
“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” – Isaiah 64:8
This poem reflects my heart’s cry. This is how I want to live my life. Though I must admit, it is not always easy. I tend to move along at my own pace, forgetting to seek God’s guidance first. Sometimes I am ahead of Him and sometimes I am behind. I pray I can learn to stay in step with Him and follow His lead. He is a loving, caring Shepherd who always has our best interest in mind. If we allow Him to have control of our lives, we will never regret it. But it must be a daily decision to relinquish control to Him. Each morning, we can make a conscious effort to hand Him our day. And we will know that our life cannot be in more loving hands. He will gently mold us with careful hands, into a beautiful masterpiece.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
As you can imagine, almost all of my meetings for work over the past year have been virtual instead of face-to-face. Even though we are all in the same office building, it is better for social distancing to meet over the computer at our respective desks, instead of in a conference room. Due to the fact that we interact less than we used to, my team has been doing fun activities in some of our meetings. At one recent meeting, we played “Two Truths and a Lie.” In this game, you provide three statements about yourself. Two are the truth and one is a fib. Then the group is supposed to guess which one is the fib. My three items were (1) I can say the alphabet backwards, (2) I know the alphabet in Spanish, (3) I know the alphabet in American Sign Language.
Which one do you think was the lie?
I will give you a moment to ponder…
…Insert Jeopardy! music…
The fib was number two. I do not know the alphabet in Spanish.
But the point of this post has more to do with the first item on the list – being able to say the alphabet backwards. You might wonder how this came about. When I was a child and had trouble sleeping, my grandmother encouraged me to silently recite the alphabet backwards in order to occupy my mind until I fell asleep. Before long, I had it memorized. As an adult, when I have had trouble sleeping, I have tried different things. Sometimes I will pray. Other times I might go through different Bible passages that I have memorized. Recently I did something new. I wish I could share it with my grandmother, because I think she would get a kick out of it. I went through the alphabet and thought of different words to describe God and His character. I have since done this on numerous occasions, picking different words. Sometimes I will go through this in my head as a way to praise God for His goodness, not just as a means to get to sleep.
Below is a list I have compiled, with Bible verse to go along with each word. However, when I put this particular list together, I did not create this list in alphabetical order, but added items to the list whenever I stumbled across a pertinent Bible verse. The last letter to get filled in was N. And when I found that particular Bible verse, I was a bit giddy with excitement. I felt as though God wanted me to find that one last so that it would make a big impact. And it did. Now anytime I hear the word “near,” it resonates in my heart like a sweet promise that God is near. I hope you enjoy going through the alphabet in this way, as you focus on how amazing our God is!
Awesome: “You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people. Praise be to God!” – Psalm 68:35
Beautiful: “One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” – Psalm 27:4
Compassionate: “If you return to the Lord, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.” – 2 Chronicles 30:9
Delightful: “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” – Psalm 37:4
Everlasting: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.” – Isaiah 40:28
Forgiving: “You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.” – Psalm 86:5
Good: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” – Psalm 34:8
Healer: “He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.’” – Exodus 15:26
Immortal: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Timothy 1:17
Just: “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” – Deuteronomy 32:4
Kind: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” – Titus 3:4-5a
Love: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:8
Merciful: “For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.” – Deuteronomy 4:31
Near: “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” – Psalm 73:28
Omniscient: “If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” – 1 John 3:20
Powerful: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” – Psalm 71:18
Quencher: “But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:14
Righteous: “For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see his face.” – Psalm 11:7
Spirit: “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24
Truth: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” – John 14:6
Unchanging: “’I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.” – Malachi 3:6-7a
Victorious: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57
Worthy: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11
eXalted: “God is exalted in his power. Who is a teacher like him?” – Job 36:22
Yours: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” – Psalm 143:10
Zealous: “Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” – Isaiah 9:7
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
The past had times of darkness
Some days were hard to bear
Other days held peace
A breath of fresh air
But looking back we can see
Jesus was always there
The present has some struggles
Some days are filled with fear
There are also many blessings
So much to hold dear
But we can rest assured
Jesus is always here
Of what’s to come in the future
We are not yet aware
There could be ups and downs
As we cling to the Lord in prayer
But one thing is certain
Jesus will be there
No matter what you went through in your past, no matter what you are going through now, and no matter what the future holds, please know that Jesus is always there for you. Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” What a comforting verse this is, and one that we can hold onto as well. As long as you have accepted Jesus in your heart, you can be certain that He is there. (If you have not accepted Jesus in your heart, then I pray that today is the day you will do so. Please read the prayer on this page. This will be the best decision you have ever made.)
In my life, I have made many mistakes. Most of us will, because we are not perfect. But looking back over times that I regret, I can still see that Jesus was there, calling me out of the darkness, like calling Lazarus out of the tomb.
In our preset lives, many of us are facing difficulties. It is part of living in a fallen world. But one thing we can hang onto is the beautiful truth that Jesus is with us every day. And even more than that, it says in Romans 8:34 that Jesus sits at God’s right hand interceding for us. Knowing this brings me so much peace. I know that no matter what I am facing, Jesus is seeing me through it all. And He does the same for you and all of God’s children.
I hate to admit that I have worries about the future. But Jesus tells us not to worry about the future. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” We have to hand our fears over to Him, knowing that no matter what may come, Jesus will be with us.
Jesus should be a constant in our lives. He should be our default, not our last resort. It is vital to cling to Him, every moment of every day. When you do, you will walk every day with peace, knowing your life is in the hands of your precious Lord and Savior.
I pray you all have a Happy Easter, celebrating what matters most – the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Poem and Post © 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
In my last post, I wrote about the messy subject of forgiveness. In that post, I mainly dealt with forgiving another person. But today I want to talk about something that goes a bit deeper – forgiving ourselves.
Sometimes it can feel easier to forgive other people than it is to forgive ourselves, if we have sinned or made a mistake that we deeply regret. We tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we do other people. We tend to be our own worst critic. And we tend to beat ourselves up when we stumble.
Why should we forgive ourselves?
1 – Grace through Jesus
We all are going to make mistakes because we are human. It says in Romans 3:23 that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” But God offers us a beautiful gift called grace. If we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, that means we are forgiven. It says in Psalm 103:12 that “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” And it says in Micah 7:19, “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” And it says in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Please know that if Jesus is your Lord and Savior, then you are forgiven. You have been washed clean. There is nothing from your past that can entangle you anymore.
2 – God wants you to
Forgiveness is a command. If we are commanded to forgive others, then doesn’t that mean we should also forgive ourselves? God wants you to live in peace. He didn’t send His only Son to die for your sins so that you could live in misery for the rest of your life. God loves you with an immeasurable love. And that means He wants you to live with contentment, not regret. If one of your children made a mistake, wouldn’t you want them to move on with their life and live in peace? Then how much more does your heavenly Father feel the same about you?
3 – You are not higher than God
If God has forgiven us, shouldn’t we also forgive ourselves? Some might think that is too easy and that we shouldn’t let ourselves off the hook. But God no longer condemns you, so you should no longer condemn yourself either. When we do not forgive ourselves, it is like saying that we know more than God does, we are smarter than Him, and we know what can and can’t be forgiven. Jesus already paid the full price for your sins. There is no balance on your debt. Yet, too often, we live our lives as though we must continue to pay.
4 – Satan doesn’t want you to
I love what R.T. Kendall says in his book How To Forgive Ourselves Totally, “I have believed for a long time that one of the ways to know the will of God is to imagine what the devil would want you to do—then do the opposite.” This is so true about so many things in life. And one in particular is the matter of forgiveness, whether we are forgiving someone else or forgiving ourselves. The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44) and the accuser (Revelation 12:10). So he is going to use any lie and accusation he can to keep you from living freely in Jesus. The enemy will tell you that you can’t possibly forgive yourself because what you did was too awful. The enemy will also tell you that God hasn’t really forgiven you, because that would be too easy. We must stand strong against the enemy and his tactics. And one way to do that is to forgive yourself.
If you are plagued with guilt and unforgiveness towards yourself, please prayerfully release it to the Lord. Explain to God how you are feeling about your regrets. Tell Him that you are ready to move on with healing. Let Him know that you are handing all your sins and past mistakes over to Him. And you are not going to pick them back up again. Each time the devil tries to remind you of your failures, tell him that Jesus has already forgiven you and that he cannot hold that over you anymore. If you are consistent and determined, you can find peace. Remember that you are forgiven and deeply loved.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
When I was a child we attended a Methodist church. Each week I remember reciting the Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
The Lord’s Prayer is found in two places within the Bible. Matthew 6 is a little longer than Luke 11. Interestingly, some versions of Matthew 6 do not have the last line at all – “For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever.” But it is in the KJV. (When I initially posted this, I misspoke and implied that it was not in any version. My apologies for that!)
I would dare say that many of you reading this remember the Lord’s Prayer from your childhood. Or perhaps you heard of it later in life, if you didn’t attend church as a youngster. Still, most of us are familiar with it. Yet many of us struggle with something touched on within this prayer – forgiveness.
When Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6, He went on to say in verses 14 and 15, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Forgiveness is actually something we are commanded to do in the Bible. And there are many verses, besides these, that talk about the subject of forgiveness. Yet, we still struggle. We might even be tempted to breeze over verses such as these because they don’t align with our self-seeking nature.
Why is forgiveness so difficult?
Well, for one thing, when there is an action that requires forgiveness, there is also a boatload of pain that goes with it. When someone hurts us, the cut might go very deep. It can be a challenge to heal that wound. I am not minimizing any pain that someone else caused you. I agree that on our own we might struggle to heal from this pain. But the good news is that we can heal with the strength of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
Another reason why forgiveness is an issue is because we believe it equates to letting the other person off the hook. We think we are essentially saying that what they did was okay. But that is not the case. When we forgive, we are freeing ourselves from carrying a heaven burden. We are allowing ourselves to move forward with newfound peace.
Unfortunately, when it comes to forgiveness (and so many other areas of our lives), our pride gets in the way. We want to hold a grudge against someone out of principle. But holding a tight fist around our painful encounters will only cause bitterness and resentment to fester deep inside. In the long run, we are truly only hurting ourselves.
Why should we forgive?
As I mentioned earlier, forgiveness is a command from the Lord. Jesus talked about forgiveness many times in the gospels. And He says that we are to keep forgiving, even when another person continues to offend us. In Matthew 18:21-22, Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” This is a tough pill to swallow for our flesh. But it is possible. If it were not possible, then God wouldn’t instruct us to do it. We have to be willing to forgive out of reverence for God.
We should also forgive because we have been forgiven. While it might be true that the person who hurt you doesn’t deserve forgiveness, it’s also true that you and I don’t deserve forgiveness either. Yet God is so quick to extend grace and mercy to us when we humble ourselves before Him. It says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What a gift we have been given! We are happy to accept it when it’s extended towards ourselves. But when it’s extended to someone who hurt us, then it’s a different story. When dealing with forgiveness, remember how much your Heavenly Father has forgiven you.
And as I touched on earlier, holding onto unforgiving feelings only hurts us. It causes us to harbor acidic emotions inside of us, which will affect our relationships, our character, our actions, and many other areas. Who really wants to live like that? No one. We all want to live in peace. Peace is possible and peace is beautiful. This is a journey mainly between you and God. You might not necessarily reconcile with the other person. But you still can move forward.
As Lysa TerKeurst says in her book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget, “For me to move forward, for me to see beyond this current darkness, is between me and the Lord. I don’t need to wait on others to do anything or place blame or shame that won’t do anyone any good. I simply must obey whatever God is asking of me right now. God has given me a new way to walk. And God has given me a new way to see. It’s forgiveness. And it is beautiful.”
If you are struggling to forgive, I hope this post helped you to take a step in the right direction. Remember the reasons why forgiveness is so important. And prayerfully seek the Lord’s help in extending forgiveness on your road to healing. In the long run, you will be happy to finally have peace in your heart again.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
He loved her with an unfailing love
She tried to love Him in return
He gave her an abundance of gifts
Her heart was stirred but didn’t burn
He longed for her whole heart
She was weak and ran away
He chased after her
She tried to hide day after day
He knew she was in trouble
Finally she called out to Him
He came running to her side
And hoped her love wasn’t a whim
He knocked down doors to get to her
He busted walls to reach her side
She was never too far away for Him
There was nowhere she could hide
He laid down His life for her
Even though she kept turning away
Finally she accepted His love
And sits at His feet every day
He wiped away her shame
He left no trace
She asked what she had to do
He said it was a gift of grace
This poem is meant to illustrate the Lord’s unfailing devotion towards His beloved. He chased after you and me when we were lost. His love is beyond our comprehension. We don’t deserve it, yet it is a gift we can freely receive.
When we read the Old Testament, we can see how far and how often the Israelites strayed from God. Yet He loved them and rescued them, time after time. In the Garden of Eden, when sin first entered the world, God made a plan to save His children.
Take some time today to sit with Jesus and think about His precious love. Take note of all the ways that the Lord has loved you throughout your life, even when you least deserved it. Let yourself feel the embrace of Your Savior, like a comforting blanket wrapped around your shoulders.
“…I have loved you with an everlasting love…” – Jeremiah 31:3
Poem and Post © 2021 Bridget A. Thomas