Forgiveness - Ways to Practice - Ideas

Then Peter came and said to Jesus, "Lord, if another member of the church
sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said
to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy times seven."

— Matthew 18:21-22

•   Before going to sleep, consciously let go of the hurts and angers of the day. Regard each evening as the beginning of a new day. Make a simple ritual woven of silence and word and gesture.

•   Face your most recent experience of when forgiveness did not happen. Can you find forgiveness by walking in the shoes of the other person? Are you willing to speak truthfully and patiently about your personal conflicts? Ask someone to anoint you for healing this relationship.

•   Reflect on ways forgiveness does and doesn't happen throughout the course of a week. As a group, keep journals and note situations of small and large conflict and how they were resolved (or not). Share your observations.

•   List and discuss various words, gestures, and actions that convey forgiveness. For example, the handshake gesture implies that "I no longer carry a weapon in my hand."

•   Write a letter to someone you are struggling to forgive. State clearly what the injury is, why it still hurts, and why it is difficult to forgive. Imagine lifting up this difficulty and giving it to God. Then burn the letter and scatter its ashes. Bless your enemies. Imagine wishing the best for the ones you find it hard to forgive ... not just what you want them to be or do, but the richness of all God has to offer. Pray through this image, using words such as "I ask you with all my heart, O merciful God, to pour out your bountiful blessings upon my enemies. Do not let our fractured relationship cause them harm. Deal gently with them, gracious God, and repair what has been broken and torn so that together we might glorify and serve you in all that we say and do." If you cannot do this yourself, ask a trusted friend to pray for you and for your enemy.

The Campaign for Forgiveness Research is an effort to deepen our understanding of forgiveness and begin the process of building many different roads to reconciliation. Endorsed by former President Jimmy Carter and co-chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pulitzer Prize winning author Dr. Robert Coles, and community activist Ruby Bridges Hall, the campaign funds research projects, compiles stories of forgiveness, and networks people devoted to repairing damaged relationships. Compile your own list of agencies and organizations that offer a ministry of reconciliation.

back to top

© 2006-2011 The Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith