Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense. Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me. For I know my offense; my sin is always before me. Against you alone have I sinned; I have done such evil in your sight That you are just in your sentence, blameless when you condemn. Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt. A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit (Psalm 51:4-7,10-12).
Turn and be converted from all your crimes, that they may be no cause of guilt for you. Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 18:30-31).
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Someone once said that repentance is like going to the dentist. It’s no fun while you are there, but you are better off afterward. The previous article, “The Call to Forgive Others as We Have Been Forgiven,” described the importance of forgiving others. This article describes the power of repentance and forgiveness in transforming us into new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Of course, the more completely we have experienced God’s forgiveness through repentance, the more completely we will be able to forgive others.
In the Scriptures, God has made it clear that each person is responsible for the consequences of his or her own actions (Psalm 51:6). And this is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that we can’t blame our upbringing or our parents; we have to own up to our own failings. But the good news is that none of us will be condemned for our parents’ or grandparents’ sins or failings.
But Jesus has even better news than this: We don’t even have to be condemned for our own past sins! The past doesn’t have to control our future. We don’t have to be trapped in a never-ending cycle of sin. God is always with us, always offering us the chance to turn to him and be forgiven. He is always offering us his grace to resist temptations that we have fallen to in the past. What’s more, we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which contains God’s own grace to give us “the new heart and the new spirit” that Ezekiel prophesied about (Ezekiel 18:31) and a “clean heart and steadfast spirit” that David asked for (Psalm 51:12).
Isn’t it comforting to know that repentance is not meant to be a one-time event? Isn’t it wonderful to know that we can deepen our conversion every day through repentance? The Hebrew phrase that we translate as the call to “turn and be converted” (Ezekiel 18:30) comes from the word shuv, which means “to turn around” and to “repent.” It is an active verb, implying that this is something each of us must do on our own, taking responsibility for our actions and not blaming someone else or just waiting for things to turn around by themselves.
It can be challenging to face up to our sins (Psalm 51:6). But the relief, freedom, and joy we experience in repentance can far outweigh our discomfort (Psalm 51:10). God offers us a new beginning every day. So let’s take him up on his offer!
Below is a prayer of repentance that is taken from the August 19th meditation in this month’s issue of The Word Among Us magazine. This is a prayer that never loses its power, and can be said often. Try saying it from the heart and see what happens.
O Lord, I come before you just as David did so many years ago. I come freely admitting my sins. I come humbly, acknowledging that my offenses have been an affront to your holiness, your justice, and your love. Have mercy on me, Lord!
O God, you have shown me how my thoughts, words, and actions have turned me away from your grace and your protection. I can see how the consequences of my sins have affected not only my relationship with you but my relationship with my brothers and sisters as well. O Lord, in your loving compassion, blot out my transgressions! Wash away my iniquity and cleanse me from my sins!
Father, through faith in you and by trusting in your Son’s death and resurrection, I believe that I have been redeemed. I believe that you can throw my sins from me as far as the east is from the west. Filled with confidence not in myself but in your power and mercy, I confess my sin and ask you to forgive me. Lord, I know that in the Sacrament of Reconciliation I can experience not only forgiveness but healing and restoration as well. And so I come to you, Father, hoping to receive your grace to begin again.
Thank you, Lord!
Father, words alone cannot describe what it is like to come back to you and feel your embrace once more. You promised through your prophet that even though my sins are as red as scarlet, they can be made as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). How can anyone fully express what it feels like to be made so clean?
Sometimes I think that being forgiven is like having a large, crushing load lifted from my back, allowing me to stand up straight again. Other times it feels like heaviness is lifted from my chest so that I can breathe freely once more. And every time, I feel a wonderful strengthening through your grace, Lord, enabling me to say “no” to temptation. Thank you, Father, for the joy that this brings!
Father, your love and mercy are unending! Inspired by your grace, I come to you now to be set free. Father, may I never forget you!
(Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine and to use the August 19, 2010 meditation. Used with permission.]