When someone hurts us, our natural response is to either hurt them back or hope they will suffer for what they have done to us. Yet as redeemed children of God, we know this is the wrong response. That is when we discover forgiving someone doesn’t come naturally or easily; it requires supernatural grace on our part. And where do we get that? Through prayer! Jesus said, ‘When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in Heaven may forgive you your sins.’ Recalling God’s grace towards you leaves you no choice but to extend that same grace towards someone who hurts you.
Lewis Smedes said, ‘Forgiveness is a decision to set a prisoner free, and then discovering that the prisoner is you.’ So if you have a desire to forgive someone, get excited; the Holy Spirit has already done half the job. To complete the other half, humble yourself and pray: ‘Father, I turn from every desire I have to avenge this wrong. You saw the situation before it happened, and in Your infinite wisdom You allowed it to be so. Your Word says that “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28 KJV)—even this for my good—so from this moment on, with the help of Your Holy Spirit, I forgive them. I will not dwell on the situation but will declare Your Word instead.’
That’s called ‘a prayer of release’. And you’re not just releasing your offender; you’re releasing and repositioning yourself to walk in God’s blessing. That’s why you must forgive them!