Prayers of repentance painful but essential - 10 July 2018

Hennie Symington

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your great compassion, blot out my transgression Psalm 51:1

Of all our prayers, a prayer of deep sorrow at our wrongdoing and sin must be the most wrenching for us, not only as Christians but as human beings. Yet repentance and serving Christ go hand in hand, so much so that you cannot repent of your sin unless you are a servant of Christ, and you cannot truly serve Christ unless you repent. This is nothing new. Generations of Christians have understood this, for the first command our Saviour ever gave was, “Repent and believe in the gospel”(Mark 1:15). And throughout all generations, believers have turned to Psalm 51 for assistance in expressing their repentance before the Lord.

As the superscript to Psalm 51 tells us, this psalm was prompted by David’s response when Nathan the prophet confronted him, bringing home to him the full horror of his wrongdoing. Not only had he seduced Bathsheba, but had her husband killed to put his wicked plans in action. However, when the words of God came to David through the prophet Nathan, David turned from his sin (2 Samuel 12:1–15a). This is in keeping with how the Lord works faith in our hearts. Just as faith comes by the hearing of the Word of God (Romans 10:17), so does repentance, for repentance is inseparable from faith.

Prayer: Oh Lord, to be confronted with our sin and our wrongdoing is deeply painful and distressing. Yet, recognising and confessing sin is the only way in which we can truly put our lives in order. Thank you Lord, that forgiveness is a given when we repent of our sins. Amen

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