Prayer to Leave the Past Behind So the Past No Longer Defines You

Are you looking for an answer of how to move on from your past and leave the past behind to it no longer defines you?  I have been.  I’ve been trying to reconcile my past with how God sees me, and what God thinks of me.  This past Sunday he showed me the answer to my past.

My Overwhelming Experience During Worship

There are times when worship causes someone to realize something God has been trying to say or has been saying but we missed it for a long time.  When these moments occur they are unexpected, and the realization that washed over me on Sunday morning as I stood singing was almost overwhelming. Let me explain.

I could write a very long list of people that I have offended in my past.  I’ve attempted to apologize to some, and others just don’t want to hear from me ever again.  I understand that.  I could write pages and pages of all the things I’ve done wrong.  The one thing I’ve never been able to fully wrap my brain around is God’s forgiveness.  How could He let go of my past when I can’t?  I saw something while other members of the worship team were singing the lyrics of “Here In the Presence” by Steven Furtick, Chris Brown and Mack Brock:

“I know your past is broken

You can move on it’s over now

Here in the presence of the Lord.”

In that moment of time what here is what God showed to me:

As I was standing during the song in my mind’s eye I caught a glimpse of an image.  In the image I was standing with both arms and hands lifted up in worship.  Behind me was a wall that I knew was there yet I did not look at.  This wall had significance.  The wall was located just behind me about an inch away.  In my mind I knew the wall was there and it was as if everything behind the wall was grayed out.  A little explanation here; If I were to fill out a form on the internet and I missed something, the button to continue may be “grayed out” which means it’s not clickable.  Hence, I cannot click on it and go back anything.  This was the condition of the wall.  I never tried to touch the wall, but there was no desire in my heart to turn and even look at the wall.

The wall represented my past.  Why would I want to turn and look at it…all that before me was vibrant and beautiful beyond words I could write here.  I cannot begin to describe the colors and the brightness of what I was beholding.  I can tell you this: I did not want to look away.  Why turn around and away from the glorious display in front of me to look at a gray wall?

Here is what I believe that many people need to hear from this particular song and can glean from the image that flashed in my mind:

Identify your broken past and claim God’s promises

I know your past is broken…”  You have been identified.  You believe that you are known by your broken past.  It may be abuse.  It may be a failed marriage.  It may be a lost job.  It may be a combination of several things.  The problem is that this is how you identify yourself.  You identify yourself as the victim of your past and you let what happened in the past to define what happens to you in your future.  This is not how God operates.  God does not work to remind us of our past.  He works overtime to remind us of what the future can hold for us and how he sees us.

“For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11, HCSB)

“Now this is what the Lord says — the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel — “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.”  (Isaiah 43:1, HCSB)

God has a plan for your future.  He knows what steps you will take:

“The very steps we take come from God; otherwise how would we know where we’re going?”  (Proverbs 20:24, MSG)

God spends so much time on your future that he doesn’t spend a lot of time on your past.  In fact, God works hard to bury it so that you and I cannot find it again:

He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”  (Micah 7:19, HCSB)

So, to recap, yes…your past is broken.  Mine is, too.  I have yet to meet someone whose past is not broken.  Here is where the permission comes into play: “You can move on; it’s over now.”

Use your God-given permission to stop focusing on the past

What is over now?  Your past.  So is mine.  Your past is the gray wall.  Not clickable.  You cannot look back into the wall and see things clearly.  Everything that is behind the wall is gray and not definable.  So now, we move on.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13-14, ESV)

You can move on, it’s over now.”  Look forward from your past toward the glorious beauty that God has created for us to observe everywhere we look, and keep going away from your past toward the future God has created for you.

There are two very divergent paths that people can take.  One path is defined by what happened in the past.  People who are victims and who let that victimhood define them are destined to be controlled by that past.  The second path is defined by who God says we are.  This path requires following God, listening for his voice, spending time with him, learning more about who he is and the plans he has for one’s life.

I choose the second option.

Relocate yourself into God’s presence  

Here in the presence of the Lord.”  What location do you find yourself in right now?  Have you been in the presence of the Lord to experience what it is like?  I must admit that there have been a couple of times when I have gone to prayer that I have covered my head because I felt as though I could not approach God any other way.  There have been moments of worship that I have had where the presence of the Lord was like a mist hanging over the congregation.  But where else does anyone expect to find peace in the middle of the battle?

You say, “Great!  How can I find the presence of the Lord?  Where do I go to find him so that I can experience this wonderful thing you are writing about?!?”

“You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.  

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?  If I go up to heaven, You are there;  if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.  If I live at the eastern horizon or settle at the western limits,  even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me.  

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”   — even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You.  

For it was You who created my inward parts;  You knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.     

Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.“  (Psalms 139:5-14, HCSB)

Allow God’s love to come looking for you

 Where can you go?  Nowhere…God comes to you.  You don’t have to move.  The Spirit of the Lord finds us.  He seeks us out.

“What man among you, who has 100 sheep and loses one of them,  does not leave the 99 in the open field and go after the lost one until he finds it?  When he has found it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders,  and coming home, he calls his friends and neighbors together, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my lost sheep! ’  I tell you, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance.”  (Luke 15:4-7, HCSB)

Jesus comes looking for you.   

There is also a promise to be found in the continuation of a verse previously quoted:

“For I know the plans I have for you”  — this is the Lord ’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”  (Jeremiah 29:11-13, HCSB)

Wow!  Think about this concept: Jesus is looking for you.  He leaves the rest of flock to search everywhere for you.  If you look for God with all of your heart, he promises that you will find him.  My friend, no religion offers this.  Entering into a relationship with the God of this universe gives us hope.  Hope that we will be found and that we will find him who is Love.

Do you need help moving forward from your past?  I know that you’re broken.  I’m broken.  My heart has been repaired so many times by the loving Father who sent his son to look for us.  However, being broken doesn’t define you.  Let God define who you are and move on from your past.  The past is over.  God’s presence is available all the time.  Be who God says you are to be and don’t give any more power to the past that haunts you.

Pray this with me:

Prayer to Leave the Past Behind

Jesus, how desperately we need you to be present with us.  We have given power to the wrong thing in our lives: our past.  We have allowed things that no longer matter to define who we are.  We have set out on the wrong path and we need you to correct our course of life.  Show us your presence and your glory.  Show us the loving Father who is always good and whose love for his children never fails.  Be who you are, the Savior who will always find his lost sheep and will never stop looking for those who are lost.  Be near.  Show us perfect love.  In your name we pray, amen.”

Other Helpful Posts by David Shelton

Praying about injustice

Prayer for God’s strength one step at a time

Finding peace in life’s storms

Prayer during your darkest hour


Copyright © 2017 David Eric Shelton, ASCAP, All rights reserved.