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Seeking Forgiveness

Admitting to God the things that we have done wrong, and seeking forgiveness for them is the third element of the ACTS pattern.

One of the most wonderful things about being a Christian is that when we come before Father God and say sorry, he always forgives us. This is unlike human parents, friends or colleagues who at time may have said that we are forgiven, but who secretly harbour resentment. God's forgiveness is total and complete.

It is vital that Christians know the totality and permanance of God's forgiveness. If you are not certain of this, you might like to meditate on these verses from Ephesians 1:4-8:
"Because of his love God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his sons and daughters—this was his pleasure and purpose. Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, which he gave to us in such large measure!"

It is not just that sinfulness is against the law that God has set for us, sin causes pain in the Father's heart. Joyce Huggett tells a story in her book, "learning the language of prayer" of a small boy who was persistently late home from school "If you're late again, there will be no dinner for you", warned his parents, but to no avail. For a few days he was more punctual, but then slipped back into his old habits. When the family sat down to their evening meal, it was the boys favourite : roast chicken potatoes, vegetables and gravy. His mother put down two plates of food in front of herself and the boy's father. They all closed their eyes whilst the boy's father said grace. When the boy opened his eyes, he saw his father swapping his empty plate for his father's own plate full of food. As the boy gazed at this, two things struck him deeply: the depth of his father's love, and the price he was prepared to pay to express that love.

We too are called to forgive others. Jesus teaches us in the Lords Prayer to pray that we might be forgiven in the same manner as we forgive those who have wronged us. In Matthew's Gospel we read of Jesus telling Peter that he must forgive his brother seventy seven times (Bible Verses from the NIV), and Paul writes to the Ephesians, "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you." (Eph 4:32). Being forgiving takes patience and strength of character, which takes time to develop. Ask God to help you develop such character.

Pointers for Prayer :
i. Ask God to show you the parts of your life that He is not pleased about, and that do not match with the life He is calling you to lead. This can help you come to terms with things that you may not want to tackle and confess.
ii. After you have spent time confessing the things you regret to God, remind yourself of his promise to forgive those who confess their sins.  Give Him thanks for this.
iii. Spend time praying about any issues where you need to forgive others, where you might be holding some grudge against them. Ask for God's help with this.