Meditation Mondays: Prayer of Atonement

Clasped Hands (National Cancer Institutes, public domain).

Clasped Hands (National Cancer Institutes, public domain).




The following text is a prayer of atonement. Most often repeated on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement observed during Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar year (between September and October), it is based on the Al Chet, the confession of sins uttered ten times during ceremonies for The High Holidays.

Interfaith in its wording, this short prayer may also serve as an excellent tool for reflection for anyone striving for personal improvement, and may be meditated upon at any point during any year, but may be particularly helpful during the darkest of times when our world needs each of us to be a beacon of kindness and compassion.


To those I may have wronged,
I ask forgiveness.

To those I may have helped,
I wish I had done more.

To those I neglected to help,
I ask for understanding.

To those who helped me,
I sincerely thank you.

– Author Unknown


Questions to Ponder as You Meditate on the Prayer of Atonement

1. Have I helped the poor and the weak this year, or have I become too distracted by work or personal concerns to demonstrate my compassion for others? (Or, has my heart become so hardened by the world that I have failed to demonstrate compassion when it was sorely needed by another?)

2. Have I donated to charitable organizations other than my church or temple and, if so, did I do so joyfully or somewhat resentfully? (And if I did not, how did I turn away the non-profit employee calling me on the telephone or approaching me in person? Did I hang up or slam the door in her face, or was I polite and appreciative of her attempts to do a job for which she was likely paid only minimum wage?)

3. Do I think before I speak or post something online via Facebook or Twitter, or have I said or written something in anger that may have caused someone pain?

4. Have I seen and attempted to understand and mitigate the pain of others who have been striving to “fit in” – to be accepted as valued members of the workforce at my place of business or as neighbors in the community where I live, or have I ignored or made the pain of others worse?

5. What have I done to make my community or the world a better place this year? What can I do in the coming year to make a positive impact?



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