A repentance prayer is a prayer we deliver to acknowledge that we are sinners. Our prayer of repentance should come from the Holy Spirit within us.
One of the prime characteristics of God is that He is holy. He is sinless and above reproach. We, as humans, are sinners and are all fallible in comparison to God’s glory (Romans 3:23).
But when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we are saved from the penalty of our sins which is death (Romans 6:23). We are transformed into Christlikeness until the day sin is no longer present and we are reunited with God. One of the key elements of this conversion is repentance.
What is a Repentance Prayer?
We communicate spiritually with God when we pray. This is not only speaking to Him but also listening to Him. A repentance prayer is a prayer we deliver to acknowledge that we are sinners. We say this prayer to let go of our former life of sin and give our lives to God. We humble our hearts, ask for God’s mercy, and submit to His will.
Why is a Prayer of Repentance Necessary?
It shows submission to the command of God
Jesus Christ began his public Galilean ministry by preaching and declaring to the people to repent because God’s kingdom has come (Matthew 4:17). Throughout his ministry, he emphasized his call for sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32, Luke 13:3, Luke 15:10). As faithful followers of Christ, Christians are subject to God’s authority. Therefore we are to obey His command to turn away from our sins.
It is an act of humility
We live in a world that puts prioritizes the self. Pride then easily creeps into our hearts because of this. With prideful hearts, we worship ourselves and others rather than centering our worship on God alone. When we utter a prayer of repentance, we come to the Lord in humility. We acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves and need a Savior in Jesus Christ.
It is a vital part of spiritual maturity
Spiritual maturity is a result of surrendering our lives to God as He sanctifies us into the likeness of Christ. We commit to leaving our old life and our sinful ways when we say a prayer of repentance. This allows us to grow and increase in God’s work.
When Should One Say a Prayer of Repentance?
Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sins once and for all. When we repent from our sins and accept Jesus into our lives, our conversion as Christians from death to life is an assured gift we enjoy from that moment forward. However, we live in a fallen world and are not completely free from the power of sin. Therefore one must say a prayer of repentance as often as one is led and convicted by the Holy Spirit to do so as we continue to grow into spiritual maturity.
Attributes of a Genuine Prayer of Repentance
Recognition and admission of sin
A genuine prayer of repentance begins with the clear recognition that one has defied what God said one cannot do. It is the definite acknowledgment that one loved and embraced what God hates. A prayer of repentance that is sincere sees the stain of the heart because of sin. It is confessing that God is not pleased with what we are doing. We are wrong and have sinned.
A prayer of repentance that is genuine is more than just a feel-good apology. It is a prayer that comes from a heart that is truly convicted of sin. A prayer of repentance that is articulated when one is not truly offended by one’s sin is a dishonest prayer of repentance to God.
Change in behavior
An untainted prayer of repentance always results in behavior change. This prayer of repentance is not empty words that come out of our mouths but one that comes alive in our deeds. Sincerely coming to the Lord and admitting our sins in humility lead to the fruits of repentance which will be apparent in the way we think, speak, and act.
Gratitude and joy over forgiveness
Confessing and turning away from our sins through a genuine repentance prayer is a way by which we can receive mercy and blessing from the Lord. A genuine repentance prayer is filled with awe and thankfulness for the grace that the Lord bestowed upon His people. Knowing how grave our sins are and having a clear understanding that we cannot make amends for our sins by our efforts will lead us to the joy that forgiveness is even possible.
Commitment to a transformed life
Doing proactive steps and resolving towards turning away from sins by the strength the Lord provides is a mark of a true prayer of repentance. Our repentance prayer propels us into the pursuit of purity and godliness.
How Can One Say a Prayer of Repentance?
We are drowned in shame when we sin and may not know how to start a prayer of repentance. But with a heart that breaks for what displeases God, we can start by following these steps.
You can start by first giving honor to God for who He is just as the psalmist sings praises to the Lord and declares that all creatures forever praise His holy name (Psalm 145:21). We focus on His attributes – loving, merciful, just, sovereign, powerful, and all-knowing. Praising God allows us to step into His presence. We praise God for who He is as written in His word and also as we experience Him to be.
Give thanks to God
It is good and proper to express gratitude to the Lord. Thanksgiving is a posture to God’s goodness and His love that endures forever. Thank God for His mercy and for His gift of salvation which is certain. Thank Him for His power to cleanse you from unrighteousness and for the strength He provides us to flee from every temptation.
Be humble and ask for God’s forgiveness for the sins we intentionally committed. In like manner, we ask the Lord to search our hearts and bring to the surface even the sins that we are not aware of. Admitting our sins gives us the courage to come before the Lord, knowing that nothing can deter our prayers. It is a manifestation of an open heart that honors who God is and is ready to receive His mercy and presence.
Declare the Lord’s promises
God is merciful and faithful to forgive us. We can bring to our mind that the Lord will hear, heal, and forgive His people if they humble themselves, flee from sin, and seek Him (2 Chronicles 7:14). As we bring forward the Lord’s promises, we as well declare our enduring reliance on Him alone.
Examples of Repentance Prayers
Below are some repentance prayers you can utter to the Lord with a sincere and humble heart:
Dear God, it has been a lonesome journey without You. I tried to set the direction and relied on my delusion of unlimited strength. I thought I can find happiness in the things that I possess and call my own. Yet in Your mercy, You showed me who I am – deprived and desolate.
And so I pray, forgive me for holding on to my folly and haughtiness. I empty myself in You, for You. And in this giving up of my life, I may have lost everything that I acquired in pride yet what I have gained far outweighs my loss – this freedom, this love, but more so being called your own. I declare Your mighty protection over my life. I step into Your grace and continue in the upward calling to expand Your kingdom.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
All-powerful and merciful Father, I am weary and exhausted of my striving. There is a yearning in my heart that cannot be quenched by this world. I come before You today in complete understanding that You alone can satisfy the longings of my soul. You are the alpha and omega, the keeper and redeemer of my life as you know me completely. Also, you know the desires and needs of my heart before I can even articulate them. You see the crevices of my mind and heart.
With You, there is no hiding. Lord, You declared that You will not disregard and change the words that came out of Your lips. You said that You will forgive those who humbly come to You to seek and obey You. I lay down the sins that entangle my life. In Your steadfast love, purify and mold my heart into Christlikeness. Strengthen me that I may turn away from my old ways and focus on You alone.
I proclaim Your sufficiency in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
As sinners, we are overcome with shame and condemnation. But the gospel of Jesus Christ offers the gift of light and eternal life. In all humility, we may go to the feet of God and utter a sincere prayer of repentance with the assurance that He hears our prayers. When we truly repent and commit to submit ourselves to Christlikeness, God is faithful to forgive, deliver, and heal us.
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