3 Ways to Forgive Yourself So You Can Really Pray Again
Jenni is on the blog today, talking about a very important topic: forgiving ourselves. If you’ve ever thought “I know God has forgiven me, but I just can’t get past my royal failure,” this post is for you.
I grew up with a strong Christian faith, but then I went to college and did all the things misguided college students do. I knew God was still there – caring for me and watching over me. But I felt like my sins were an obstacle that couldn’t be overcome, and so my relationship with God – my prayer life – suffered.
Thinking back, I realize how much this must have hurt our God who so deeply longs for a relationship with us. My bad choices were one thing, but letting them come between us was like rubbing salt in the wound.
It would have been so much better to come before God in the midst of it – to seek Him even when I had a heavy sense of my own sin. Even, perhaps, before I was ready to fully repent and change my ways.
But this disconnect I felt between who God wanted me to be and who I actually was – it was holding me back. I shrunk away from Him and decide I wasn’t worthy. Which is true, of course. We are always unworthy of God.
That’s one of the great things about God – He doesn’t care. He covers all our unworthiness with his holiness and forgiveness, so we can come to Him anyway – no matter what state we are in.
I wish I understood that back then, but the truth is, sometimes I even forget now. Out of the blue, I will realize that I’ve been avoiding God, because I feel guilty about this or that. Instead I should be going to God – trusting Him to love me through it all.
After all, God’s forgiveness is instant. It’s forgiving ourselves that takes time.
So here are 3 practical steps to forgive yourself, so you can get on with your prayer:
1. Ask God for help. What’s the most obvious thing to do when we struggle with something? Ask for help!
Ask God to give you the grace, the mercy, and the understanding to finally…once and for all…forgive yourself for whatever sins you are holding onto. Ask God to help you let go of your sins so you can move into a deeper relationship with Him.
2. Keep asking. You might have to ask God for help once or a thousand times before you feel those chains of guilt start to loosen. Just keep at it. Perseverance is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Having trouble persevering? Ask God to give you more perseverance!
Remember, God is the perfect gift giver:
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! (Luke 11:13)
3. Embrace the forgiveness. Guilt has a way of drifting into our mind like a black mist. Whenever it does, verbally remind yourself, “I am forgiven.”
Train your brain to remember – with as much repetition as it takes – that God has forgiven you. That God loves you regardless of your sin.
We all sin. Sometimes we imagine our sins are greater than others – that our sins are too great to allow room for a relationship with God. But no sin is greater than God’s forgiveness.
In the end, we do not answer to ourselves. We do not answer to other people. We answer to God, and He already forgave us for everything the moment we asked.
So embrace your forgiveness. Live free as the forgiven and loved daughter you are, and feel the release that such freedom can bring.
Then hold onto that freedom with all that you are worth. You are a child of God, and nothing can keep you from a relationship with Him!
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38)
For more ways to embrace a deeper prayer life, click here.
Jenni DeWitt is a fun-loving contemplative who is discovering the value of rest and silent prayer in the midst of this rushed society. She is the author of two books — Forty Days and Why Won’t God Talk to Me? Surprising Ways He Already Is. Jenni lives in Nebraska with her husband and two young sons. She loves to help people in their daily prayer time at Genuflected.com.
Please know that I am not trying to be argumentative with this comment. I have been in a spot where I thought I had to ‘forgive myself’, so I understand the thought processes behind it. Yet, I have a lot of trouble with this ‘forgive yourself’ line of thinking. It is not scriptural. Nowhere in Scripture are we told to forgive ourselves for anything. Certainly Jesus never even hinted that a person needed to forgive themselves when they messed up. If God has forgiven us, then we are to walk in that forgiveness. Even when we do not feel it, we are to walk in it because it is accomplished if we are Christ followers. To believe Satan’s lie that, in order to feel better about myself I need to forgive myself for something I did, is to fall victim to his attempt to paralyze us and keep us from living in the freedom that Christ bought for us. It is also to say that God’s forgiveness is not enough.
Perhaps I am missing something? I am willing to be corrected if I am wrong about this.
I understand your line of reasoning, therefore I offer you my vision of living a guilt free, Christ led life. Perhaps “forgive” is the wrong term. I think “letting go” is much more fitting. I know in my life, in the past, when I have done or said something that I was ashamed of or, like Jenny, lived a lifestyle that I was not proud of, yes, I carried around a lot of guilt.also like Jenny, that guilt drove a wedge between myself and God (in my mind anyway). I think THAT is the lie Satan tries to convince us of- that we could never be forgiven! Once we ask, with a pure heart, for the Lord to forgive us, take away that pain- it is gone!! If we hang on to those shameful, hurtful, self sabotaging feelings or let them go, like God already has- well now, that is up to us. We are free to let go of them, God wants us to. God wants us to be happy and joyous. It is the devil that wants us to feel shame and regret Just let go of whatever it is that is hurting you. LET GO AND LET GOD!
Thank you for that explanation. I felt the same way as Leah. You have made it more understandable. I pray that I can let it go. It is so very hard with constant reminders.