About a week ago, I received an email from a reader. She saw my post on overcoming disappointment, and she asked if I could help her. She is suffering in an unbearably unjust situation, and she is angry and resentful at the person causing it.
I can’t share her whole story, but the details are unimportant. Your anger and resentment are as real and honest and justified as hers are. They’re understandable.
And she’s looking for answers, just like you are.
I prayed about this woman and her family, and I prayed for you. I prayed that God would give me the words to help both of you.
My therapist says that anger is always masking a more vulnerable emotion. I think it’s helpful to look at that more vulnerable emotion and to deal with that, but you can come back to that later. For now, let’s just talk about the anger and resentment you’re feeling.
Table of contents
12 Bible Verses & 5 Steps to Overcoming Anger and Resentment
Concrete steps make sense to me. Give me a numbered list, and I’m a happy camper. So I created a numbered list for you.
Following the steps isn’t as easy as 1-2-3. The steps are where the real work lies. I am praying that you are challenged by these steps, and that you find a way to get through them all.
- Control your temper. (Let’s start right away with the hard stuff!)
When people mistreat us and there’s nothing we can do about it, we get angry. It isn’t fair. Parents see it in their young children who are constantly on the lookout to make sure everything is fair.
The gut reaction to get angry in the face of unfairness never really goes away. God’s Word says that we are to control our tempers, even in the face of unfairness.
Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs. -Proverbs 19:11
Earn respect. What if the respect of men isn’t what you’re after?
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires. -James 1:19-20
The righteousness God desires. Ouch. We may be able to brush off the respect of men, but the righteousness of God doesn’t go away so easily.
Do to others as you would like them to do to you. -Luke 6:31
When we overlook wrongs, we treat others the way we want to be treated. But what if the wrong is something really big? What if we can’t just get over it?
We still have choices. If the wrong is something monumental – abuse, neglect, criminal – then DO SOMETHING. Don’t just get angry, but take action. Enlist the help of someone who can stop it.
The reader who wrote to me has endured her situation for five months. Certainly, she has been slow to anger. But now, she is angry.
2. Don’t let your anger control you. God recognizes that sometimes, we do get angry. Often, we need to get angry to remedy a situation or to spur us on to action.
Don’t sin by letting anger control you. Think about it overnight and remain silent. -Psalm 4:4
He is saying to think about your situation, and see if it merits getting angry.
Are you saying something like, “YES! It does! I have a right to be angry. Is that wrong?”
Being angry isn’t a sin, but being controlled by anger is a sin.
And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. -Ephesians 4:26-27
So you’re angry. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry. Find a way to work out the anger, pray through the anger, move past the anger before you give the devil an in-road to your psyche.
Need a pick-me-up? Go do something kind for someone. Volunteer your time. Do good, forgetting about the person who’s made you angry for a while.
Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm. -Psalm 37:8
All scriptures are God-breathed, right? Every word is true. So what of this? Stop being angry?! How do you just stop?
3. You pray. Pray for yourself. Pray for the person who is making you angry. Pray for the situation. Pray that your heart will be softened and you’ll forgive.
People can’t change people. Only God can change people.
Right now, you need to be changed, and the person who’s hurt you needs to be changed. Give yourself permission to just focus on you for now. Ask God to change you and get rid of your anger despite the rotten situation you’re in.
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. -Colossians 3:8, 12-13
You are holy and beloved, my friend. You are, and you deserve better than what this anger and resentment are doing to you.
4. Forgive. I said these steps weren’t going to be easy. Pray that you can forgive the person who’s making you angry. Pray it every day, every hour, every minute if you have to.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. -Ephesians 4:31-32
It’s the Golden Rule again. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat the person who’s made you angry with the same tenderhearted kindness that you treat your kids with.
I heard once that holding unforgiveness in your heart is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Unforgiveness is toxic to your soul. It affects every part of your life, and it manifests in sickness, in tension, and in anger.
Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. -Luke 6:37
We are required to forgive as the Father has forgiven us. It is not optional – and it does not come easily.
5. Love. Forgiveness is one thing, but loving is another thing entirely. Loving your enemy – the very person who’s hurt you – is also required by scripture.
Not suggested, required.
The very thought makes me feel sick for you.
You don’t want to act in a loving way towards the person who’s hurt you. Not at all.
That’s where prayer comes in again. Pray that you’ll have compassion and kindness for that person. (And keep praying it until it happens.)
Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. -Luke 6:35
This passage goes on to say that even sinners are kind to those who love them, but it takes something special to be kind to an enemy.
You see, we don’t get to have vengeance. It’s not ours; it’s God’s alone. We are called to love God and love one another, the end.
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God.
For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;I will pay them back,”says the Lord.
Instead, If your enemies are hungry, feed them.
If they are thirsty, give them something to drink.In doing this, you will heapburning coals of shame on their heads.
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. -Romans 12:17-21
You see, Jesus didn’t just die for you, my righteous friend. He died for the person who’s hurt you, too. He loves both of you the same. It doesn’t seem fair (there’s a parable about that), but it is so.
Jesus died for both of you because you’re both sinners.
Different stories, different sins, same black marks.
For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
Download these Bible verses on anger and resentment in a convenient black and white printable below. You can work on memorizing and meditating on them, one at a time.
If you need help with a system for memorizing verses, check out this post on our family’s memorization habit.
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© 2015 – 2018, Tara Ziegmont. All rights reserved.
I once practiced a simple prayer exercise with friends to release the pain we had suffered together. We imagined writing down on a sheet of paper all the hurtful words and actions others had aimed at us. Then, in our minds’ eyes, we folded that page into a tiny paper boat such as a child might make. Then we lowered that boat onto the surface of a stream and watched the current carry away all that had been said and done against us. It was a helpful exercise, a prayer of release.
Some things are easier than others to let go, of course. Some things require great effort—and prayer—before we can be free of them. But that “paper sailboat” exercise can be adapted to any number of situations, such as the following:
1) Prayer to release anger, resentment and bitterness
God, hear me and answer me. You know I am troubled by thoughts and feelings of anger, resentment and bitterness. You also know why. And You know how deep the hurt goes and how long I have lived with it. But I don’t want to live with it any longer. I don’t want to be an angry, resentful and bitter person. With Your help, I release my anger into Your hands. I surrender my resentment. I let go of my bitterness. Help me to keep letting go and release these toxic emotions as often as they try to return.
2) Prayer to release a loved one
Lord God, I release ______ into your care. You know all my love and concern for (him/her). I know that You share that love and concern, so I release (him/her) into Your hands. Help me to find healthy and helpful ways to love and care and pray for (him/her), even as I learn to trust You to see all I cannot see and do what I cannot do.
3) Prayer to release fear
Father, I give my fear to You. I have been crippled and poisoned by fear for too long. I reject it. I release it. I choose faith instead of fear, believing in Your good plans for me. I choose love instead of fear, trusting that Your “perfect love” will cast out all fear (1 John 4:18). I choose Your light and truth instead of fear, accepting Your Word, which says I “need not fear terror that stalks in the night, the arrow that flies in the day, plague that strikes in the darkness, or calamity that destroys at noon,” because you are with me (Psalm 91:5-6, ISV).
4) Prayer to release the illusion of control
Mighty God, for too long I have wanted to be in control, tried to be in control and cherished the illusion that I am in control. I release myself and my illusions into Your hands. By Your grace, I surrender my need to feel in control, and embrace the truth that You are in control and that I can control only my inner life and not my outward circumstances—and certainly not other people. Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot control, courage to change the few things I can (my thoughts and actions) and wisdom to know the difference.
5) Prayer to release an attitude of victimhood
Lord, with Your help, I release all the negative thoughts, feelings and impressions that lead to an attitude of victimhood in my life. I turn from it. I refuse to be a victim any longer. I choose to rely and live on the truth of Your Word that says I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37) rather than a victim, through the One who loves me and gave Himself for me. Let me live a victorious life from this moment on instead of entertaining any thoughts of victimhood.
6) Prayer to release dependency
Father, I repent and renounce and release the dependency by which I’ve lived until now. Whatever the roots—self-doubt, self-hatred, self-loathing, etc.—I release the sense that I need anything or anyone but You and Your truth to get me through the day and through this life. Remind me, moment by moment, that my God will meet all my needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
7) Prayer to release shame
God, Your Word says there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set free” (Romans 8:1, NIV). I agree with Your Word and so release all the shame I have felt because of the lies I’ve believed about myself. I choose to believe what You say about me and not what others say—not even what I have said about myself. I accept that I am Your “work of art,” “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10, NIV) and trust You to help me, moment by moment, to live in that reality.
If it helps, any of these prayers can be written (mentally or physically) on a little paper sailboat that is then released onto the surface of a flowing stream—an exercise that can be repeated as needed, until release becomes reality.
Father, I acknowledge that I’ve held resentment and bitterness against (name). I confess this as
and ask You to forgive me. I forgive (name). Remind me, Lord, to not hold any more resentments, but rather to love this person. Father, I ask You to also forgive (name) . Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.
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More Perseverance Prayers
Prayer To Release Offense Toward God
Here is a prayer you can offer to God as you work to release an offense. I believe it is best said out loud, either alone or with others who will stand with you. It is based on Biblical truth, spoken to a God who cares and is worth pursuing as you move forward.
“I come to you with painful events that I do not understand. Things have happened to me and to my loved ones that hurt. I choose to set aside what I do not understand and believe that You are good. This is not based on blind faith, or on my feelings, but based on Your character. The measuring stick of Your love for me is the Cross of Christ and not my circumstances. There is no greater expression of love than Jesus dying in my place so that I could be in relationship with my Creator. As I look back in my life, I can see that you have been with me and have helped me in the past, although I may not have recognized it. I declare that although I do not understand these painful events, You are good, kind and loving and have my best interests in mind. Forgive me for believing the voice of Your enemy telling me to doubt Your love for me, and that I am alone and/or need to fear for the future. I choose to believe that You will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:8) and that I am precious to You (Psalm 139) and You have planned a good future for me (Jer. 29:11). I choose to use my faith right now because I do not have the feelings. As I continue to declare your goodness and love, I believe that my emotions will follow. Please God, help my unbelief.
I choose to trust You with my loved ones, that you have their best interests in mind, even if it looks painful and I want to see them free from suffering. You are enough for them, and you love them more than I do. Although I can’t see how this will work out, I want this relationship with You. Forgive me for judging You for what I do not understand. I will continue to declare You are good and give You my praise for who You are, no matter what the circumstances or what I am feeling about the circumstances.” (1 Thess. 5:18.) I refuse to be offended by You. I yield my life, health, finances, relationships, ministry, business, family and dreams to You. I am free to ask for what I desire, and free to praise You whatever the outcome.
God, I will pursue You, no longer waiting for proof of Your love for me. That was settled on the Cross as Jesus died for our sins, allowing us forgiveness and relationship with you forever. I’m coming after You. Reveal Yourself to me. Amen.” (May it come to be)
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