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How to Ask for Forgiveness

When we’ve wronged someone, what steps should we take to bring about the best opportunity for reconciliation and restoration?

What are our choices when we’ve done wrong to someone? One choice is to rationalize what we did and dismiss the incident from our minds. If our conscience is bothering us, another choice is to toss off a quick, shallow apology—“Sorry if I upset you”—and move on. Neither of these bring closure, and scars remain.

A third choice is to allow ourselves to be convicted that we were wrong and need to address it more deeply. Facing up to what we did includes exercising some empathy—putting ourselves in the other’s shoes. This kind of reflection is painful, but it will help us find genuine repentance. It can also ultimately bring relief and peace to us and others if we follow through.

A decision to ask for forgiveness needs to come next. Acting on it requires humility and restraining the impulse to minimize our guilt. We

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  1. Stories of Forgiveness ‒ Bruce,” River Valley Church YouTube Channel, Apr. 22, 2014,

  2. Leslie Vernick, “Is Restitution a Part of Repentance?” Relationship Truth Unfiltered, July 3, 2019,

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