Letting go of negative emotions can be a reality through prayer.
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 [me] 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.