This is the third session of a five-part series exploring prayer – speaking and listening to God. The series will cover why, how and what of prayer, helping participants develop their conversation with God. This session, and each session in the series, includes a short video from Justin Welby, some discussion questions and suggestions for response. While each session will work as a standalone session, they will be best done in a series as the discussion and response builds from week to week.
This session covers the topic of saying sorry, sometimes called confession. It will explore why saying sorry is important, what happens when we say sorry and how we can say sorry.
Start the session relaxing as a group. You could share a meal, go for a walk, or even just have a chat over a cup of tea. Whatever you do, make sure everyone feels at comfortable and at home. When it’s time to start moving towards the session’s content, shift the conversation towards prayer, ask how prayer has been over the last week and ask people to share silly things that they had to say sorry for as children.
When everyone has got comfortable talking and sharing, watch Exploring Prayer Part 3: Saying Sorry.
Give a minute for the video to sink in. Then move towards a time of discussion. Set healthy parameters for discussion from the start. The aim of this time is not persuasion but exploration. Allow everyone to share their understanding and experience but try to keep the group from instructing or counselling each other as much as possible.
For the most part, try to let discussion go where it goes. Ask other’s what they think about what is being shared to bring them into the discussion. In doing this, your greatest tool will be simple questions like ‘What do you think about such and such?’ and ‘Has anyone else experienced anything like what so and so has just shared?’ Don’t be afraid of moments of silence – they create the space for people to process.
You may find the following discussion points helpful:
Forgiveness can be a tricky topic. Make sure that the response is sensitive to where everyone in your group is at. Here are a few options for a response.
Archbishop Welby suggests scribbling things that are on your conscience on a piece of scrap paper and then destroying it before anyone can read it. You may want to do this as a group, spending a few minutes in silence to jot some things down and then destroying them together. You could take it in turns to say sorry to God and shred your pieces of paper in a shredder, burn them in a fire or simply put them in a bin.
If your group knows each other well, are quite comfortable with the topic of saying sorry and are ready to be stretched you might consider entering a time of communal confession. Read James 5:16 and spend a few minutes in silence as people prepare their hearts. Then leave space for people to say sorry. After each person has prayed, a member of the group should then pray for them, that God might provide healing and let them know of his forgiveness afresh. This is a challenging activity but will be massively rewarding: There is power when we bring into the light things that we have kept inside.
At the end of the session, encourage the group to commit to praying again this week. Invite people to block out time in their diaries and challenge them to increase the time they are praying from the week before.