Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person's sin. Forgiveness is costly; we pay the price of the evil we forgive. Yet you're going to live with those consequences whether you want to or not; your only choice is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or the freedom of forgiveness. That's how Jesus forgave you--He took the consequences of your sin upon Himself. All true forgiveness is substitutional, because no one really forgives without bearing the penalty of the other person's sin.
Why then do we forgive? Because Christ forgave us. God the Father "made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Where is the justice? The cross makes forgiveness legally and morally right: "For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all" (Romans 6:10).
How do you forgive from the heart? First, you acknowledge the hurt and the hate. If your forgiveness doesn't visit the emotional core of your past, it will be incomplete. This is the great evangelical cover-up. Christians feel the pain of interpersonal offenses, but we won't acknowledge it. Let God bring the pain to the surface so He can deal with it. This is where the healing takes place.
Ask God to bring to your mind those you need to forgive. Make a list of all those who have offended you. Since God has forgiven them by His grace, you can forgive them too. For each person on your list, say: "Lord, I forgive (name) for (offenses) ." Keep praying about each individual until you are sure that all the remembered pain has been dealt with. Don't try to rationalize or explain the offender's behavior. Forgiveness deals with your pain, not another's behavior. Remember: Positive feelings will follow in time; freeing yourself from the past is the critical issue.
Prayer: Lord, I desire to be free from the hurt and the hate of offenses in my past. Today I move beyond desiring to forgive and asking Your help to forgive. Lord, I forgive _________ for ___________.