Bitter Roots

Bitter roots are our sinful reactions and our condemning judgments of people, and our refusal and inability to forgive.  Roots are the habitual ways we drink nurture from God, others and ourselves.  They are not what is done to us.  It is our reaction in our spirit, the response in our spirit to what is done to us.  What is done to us is sinful but what we are talking about is the reaction in our spirit, the sinfulness we bring in our reactions.

Bitter root judgments are not powerful enough to overcome the free will of another person; although as it says in Scripture, they do defile many.  So we can’t say, “My parents made me act that way.”  But sometimes you will hear it wrongly applied in that manner.

 There is another aspect of this that is called bitter root expectancy that is not a judgment; but in our psychological being, we can have a practice in our natures, like a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”  And the two usually go together.  The psychological expectancy is not as strong.  It is not as powerful.  Some examples might be, “Men can’t be depended upon’, “Women will always be controlling”, etc.  Usually, though, in a ministry situation, if you hear that type of statement there is usually more than just psychological expectancy.  There is usually a judgment underneath that.

Most of the time, bitter root judgments have to do with our parents or with primary relationships in our lives.  Many times people will talk this way about their spouses – but if you go back further in their lives (Fruit to Root) you will find the judgment started early in their lives.

Even though others may have hurt us, it is our own fault that we have made the judgments so we are the ones who need to repent for them.  Many times in ministry it takes a while for the supplicant to understand this.  The supplicant begins at a place of wanting the offender to be guilty and, with time and prayer, moves to a place of confessing the inner vow, breaking it and going on from there. 

Sometimes, however, people don’t remember or they can’t get to the heart level.  They understand it intellectually but cannot get to the heart of it and resist, especially if the hurt was exceptionally painful.  It is much easier to deal with what was done to them than to deal with it in terms of how one has sinned back in return.  So it often takes a long time, and a lot of support, waiting and encouragement, for the person to get to the point where, at heart level, they can admit their sinful judgments.

This is all based on the 5th Commandment, “Honor thy father and mother that it may go well with thee to the land that you are going.”  The idea is that in whatever area we were not able to honor our parents, life will not go well for us in that area – the law of sowing and reaping.  By the same token, in whatever areas we have been able to honor our parents, life will go well for us in that area.  We reap what we sow and not what they sow. 

Recognizing the sin and confessing it is the first step in the process. There must be recognition of the patterns, recognition of the bitter root judgments and looking at how they have affected those around us.

Then comes repentance.  It is time to change and stop the patterns by hauling the judgments and expectations to the cross.  The counselee prays aloud, “I forgive you Dad for your hurting me, Lord I forgive my dad in Your Name.  Lord, forgive me for judging, hating and resenting my dad and for perpetuating those same attitudes and traits in my present relationships.”  This is the first part.

The second part is the hardest part.  Because the habit structure in our being is still there. (Remember it has been there since childhood) and even though confession has been made and people have been forgiven the bitter root is still there. This is where the supplicant really has to want to change – they have to die to the old behaviors, the old judgments, their old self and their old flesh. 

So here is the prayer, “In the Name of Jesus, I bind whatever this practice is to Your Cross and reckon it as dead.  Lord, please bring those practices to death by the power of Your cross.  Please reverse that old pattern.  Give me a new heart and new eyes that I may see my spouse or parent the way you see them.  That You would cause a glorious opposite in their life and restore us to new life.”

This prayer needs to be prayed over and over again.  The confession only needs to be made once.  But crucifixion is a slow process and it may take saying the prayer over and over again for the old habits to be truly left at the Cross.


Taken from:

Francis MacNutt’s School of Healing Prayer, Level II

Deliverance from Evil Spirits, Francis Mac Nutt

The Transformation of the Inner Man, John and Paula Sandford


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