March 15, 2010

The Art of Forgiving - Prayer for Forgiveness?

I'd venture to say all the intelligent visitors to this personal development blog understand the power and importance of forgiveness. Nonetheless, the art of forgiving is a little less understood. Once you know that you should forgive someone, what do you do then? How do you reap the rewards of forgiveness to be able to move on with your life?

A lot of people use prayer for forgiveness. Prayer can certainly be a powerful source in peoples' lives, but even though it is quite mystifying, it can still be scientifically studied. I came across the article below on a random internet stroll and thought it was great. It takes the art of forgiving beyond art and into method! The researchers looked at individuals utilizing prayer for forgiveness in a couple very interesting scenarios!

The Science of Prayer

By Wray Herbert
The Art of Forgiving Prayer for Forgiveness
Everyone who is in any kind of serious relationship—with a partner, a child, a close friend—has been guilty of transgression as one time or another. That’s because we’re not perfect. We all commit hurtful acts, violate trust, and hope for forgiveness.

That’s simply a fact, and here’s another one: Nine out of 10 Americans say that they pray—at least on occasion. Florida State University psychologist Nathaniel Lambert put these two facts together and came up with an idea: Why not take all that prayer and direct it at the people who have wronged us? Is it possible that directed prayer might spark forgiveness in those doing the praying—and in the process preserve relationships?

This is obviously not a new idea. Indeed it’s ancient, but Lambert and his colleagues decided to test it scientifically in two simple experiments. In the first, they had a group of men and women pray for their romantic partner. It was just a single prayer for their partner’s well-being, spoken privately in a quiet room. Others—the experimental controls—also went into a quiet room, where they simply described their partner, speaking into a tape recorder.

Then they measured forgiveness. When someone hurts you, it’s human nature to want to strike back, retaliate—or to withdraw from the relationship. The scientists defined forgiveness as the diminishing of these initial negative feelings, and when they analyzed all the data, the results were clear: Those who had prayed for their partner harbored fewer vengeful thoughts and emotions: They were more ready to forgive and move on.

This is remarkable, when you think that a single prayer made the difference. The researchers decided to run another test to double-check the findings. In this study, they had a group of men and women pray for a close friend every day for four weeks. Others simply reflected on the relationship, thinking positive thoughts but not praying for their friend’s well-being. They also added another dimension. They used a scale to measure selfless concern for others—not any particular person but other people generally. They speculated that prayer would increase selfless concern, which in turn would boost forgiveness.

And that’s just what they found. But why? How does this common spiritual practice exert its healing effects? The psychologists have an idea, which they described recently in the journal Psychological Science: Most of the time, couples profess and believe in shared goals, but when they hit a rough patch, they often switch to adversarial goals like retribution and resentment. These adversarial goals shift cognitive focus to the self, and it can be tough to shake that self-focus. Prayer appears to shift attention from the self back to others, which allows the resentments to fade.

The Art of Forgiving

What's the take home message? Well, prayer for forgiveness is a valuable tool to use if you are trying to get passed old hurts or pains or if you want to strengthen your relationships. Not only that, but prayer can also help you become a more selfless person. Now that you know this, are there any prayers you want to say right now?

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