The final step in total forgiveness is the hardest one. It requires a supernatural amount of God’s grace and a little time. Total forgiveness ultimately requires us to pray for the one who has offended, hurt, or wounded us. “No way!” you may be thinking, “That just too hard! I have been praying since this happened that God would get them—that he would give them what they deserve—that he would judge them for all the pain I have endured. Hey, the shepherd David prayed that way, so why can’t I?”

Jesus put it this way in Matthew 5:43-45a: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven…”

What?

Jesus said to pray for them. No one else will know—just you and God. Try it and feel the freedom as it pours into your soul. Ask God to forgive them, bring them to repentance, and eventually to salvation. Ask God to bless them and yes—even prosper them. This will be very, very tough at first. You may have to go slow, but go no matter what.

There is a progression you can follow that might help you do this. First, pray out of duty. God says do it, so obey. Next, pray out of debt because you understand what Christ did for you. As you do these two things, you will eventually begin to pray out of desire—because you want to. As you obey, God will change your heart and give you his love for the offender. This will soon lead you to pray with delight as love and joy take control. And eventually, your prayers for that person will achieve durability—it will become second nature.

When this happens total forgiveness has occurred. The offense, the wound, or the hurt has been fully healed.

This is a process—something you must choose to do every day. Get ready, the devil will do his best to stir up those old emotions, to convince you to replay the event in your mind, to have a pity party, feel sorry for yourself, and allow the bitterness to creep back in. You must stay vigilant. Remember—forgiveness always comes with a cost. It will cost you a great deal, but the freedom it purchases is priceless!