He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25
We will begin this prayer exercise with some deep breathing.
Take a deep breath, as deeply as possible. Hold it for a second, and then let it out. As you exhale, constrict your diaphragm push the last remaining air out of your lungs.
Again, take a deep breath, as deeply as possible. Hold it for a second, and then let it out.
As you continue to breathe deeply, imagine breathing in the grace and peace of God. As you exhale, release anxiety and stress from your mind and your body.
Continue to breathe deeply and focus on relaxing your body and stilling your mind. Be aware of your neck and shoulders, your back, your arms and hands, even your legs and feet. Tell them to relax. Release all muscle tension in your body.
As you continue to breathe deeply and rhythmically, imagine you are a Roman soldier assigned to guard Jesus and prepare him for execution. Pilate gives you the order directly, then walks away. Jesus is your responsibility.
He looks pathetic. He has been flogged with a cat of nine tails. Flesh is hanging off open wounds. You hear he was betrayed by his best friend and spent the night in solitary confinement. You learn he is condemned for leading a rebellion. You are a patriotic Roman citizen. You will treat him as you do all traitors.
You push him in front of you so you can keep an eye on him, even though he offers no resistance. You lead him down the stone steps to the lowest level of the Praetorium palace, where the cells for holding prisoners are located. But rather than lock him up, you and the other soldiers decide to play a game with him. You beat him and mock him. Then you weave a wreath out of a thorn branch and slam it into his skull. You are surprised that he says nothing. You’ve played this game before, but usually, prisoners shout curses at you. This one is oddly silent. But now it is time to escort him outside the city wall to execute him.
Another soldier helps you hoist the cross beam onto Jesus’ shoulders. Again, you push him ahead of you. When Jesus moves too slowly, you prod him forward. When he falls, you beat him with your whip to keep him going. Frustrated at the slow progress, you grab someone out of the crowd and make him carry the cross beam.
When you get to the Place of the Skull, you strip off his casula (an overgarment similar to a poncho) and stretch him out onto the cross. Others take the arms. You drive the nail into his feet. Blood splatters on your uniform, but you think nothing of it. You raise up the cross and watch him hang there naked. Those who guard him get to split up his possessions, but all this one owned was his casula, and it was one piece of cloth with just a hole in its center to go over his head. To cut it up would ruin it, so you decide to roll dice for it. Someone else wins it, and you are angry. In your frustration you spit in Jesus’ direction. Just then he looks down at you and says, “Father, forgive him. He doesn’t understand what he is doing.”
Jesus died forgiving you. Who do you need to forgive? Has anyone hurt you as more than you hurt Jesus? Perhaps, as much, certainly not more. Do you want to withhold forgiveness after Christ has forgiven you?
Say aloud with conviction. (Quietly is okay.) Thank you, Jesus for forgiving me. As you have forgiven me, I forgive _____________ for ___________________. State the individual by name, if you know it, and the specific incident in which you were wronged.
There may be several people or several offences by a single person. Keep repeating the phrase for each person and offence. Be as thorough as you can. It may be painful to recall certain instances of personal abuse. It may be a long list. Don’t push yourself too hard. You can leave some details for later and revisit this meditation again.
After you have forgiven everyone you need to forgive, take a deep breath and let it out. As you do let the burden of bitterness and resentment drop off you. Thank Jesus for his freedom.
It may be helpful for some to follow this with the Prayer Exercise for Inner Healing.