When It's Hard to Forgive
by Janine Schenone on September 12, 2023
Sometimes, it's very hard to forgive. When we struggle to forgive those who have harmed us, our first inclination is to pray to God for help forgiving the person. When that doesn't work, our second inclination is to ask God to forgive us because we are struggling with our inability to forgive.
A web search for "Prayers about forgiveness" confirms these two paths of prayer. But there is a more excellent way and a more effective way, and that is to pray for our enemies as opposed to about our enemies.
It seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? We have been wronged, not them, and we don't have any good thoughts in our minds about them yet, so this would be a bad time to pray. The first time praying for my enemy was suggested to me (by a priest), I thought he was crazy. I could barely muster the words for a person who had harmed me and several coworkers I cared about. But the advantage of prayer is that few words are needed. "God, please help _____." Maybe we are unaware of the help they need. That doesn't matter, because God knows.
The other advantage of this prayer is that it helps us to acknowledge that the person does need help. If they are being hurtful, then they are hurting themselves. It also turns our mind away from our inability to forgive and takes a step toward not letting their hurtful behavior dominate us; we turn our focus away from what they have done to us.
And eventually, we are set free and able to move on, regardless of our enemy's ability to change or acknowledge the wrongdoing. Having trouble forgiving? Trying praying for the one who hurt you.