Jesus gave us a modeled prayer. This prayer is the only prayer that was given to us besides the ones like the man-made “sinners prayer.”
So He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one” (Luke 11:2-4).
But there are multiple occurrences throughout the Bible that repentance is displayed in relation to Psalm 51. Like many people in the Bible, we sin with the knowledge that we are sinning, and also, at times, not realizing at all that we are sinning. Our duty is to keep turning away from sin, even when it’s a struggle.
God’s Wisdom on Repentance
Our prayers can encourage us, build us up, and lead us into repentance. Sin leads us astray (James 1:14), consumes our minds, and turns us away from repentance. We all have a choice in continuing in sin. Some of us fight every day the urges of the flesh and our sinful desires.
But some of us know we are doing wrong and keep doing it anyway (James 4:17). Even though our God is still merciful and loves us enough to help us be on the path to righteousness.
So, what wisdom does the Bible give to help us understand sin and its effects?
Well, the Bible is overwhelmingly full of wisdom from God. Ecclesiastes 7 advises on things such as not letting yourself explode in anger or how to be overly wise. But what caught my eye in this chapter is in Ecclesiastes 7:20, and it says, “There is certainly no righteous man on the earth who does good and never sins.” We cannot be rid of sin because we are born into it (Psalm 51:5).
Temptation will never leave us in this life, but God gave us His Word to fight back. Repentance is going to be a part of our lives as long as we are living in this sinful body. This is the negatives of the life we have to endure, but we don't have to let these sins rule in our hearts and minds.
Our prayers lead us into repentance when the Holy Spirit reveals to us what to repent for. There is no right or wrong way to pray for repentance. It is out of true conviction and turning away that shows we are serious. Even if we struggle. “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15).
Leaning on God’s Grace for Repentance
In Romans 7, the Bible says that we are no longer bound by the law even though the law itself still serves us in wisdom from God. Jesus died for our sins, and so for that sacrifice, grace has been given to us. But there is a purpose to the law as it has revealed to us what our sins are (Romans 7:7-13).
Because God is holy and without sin, He desires us to continue to repent and run away from sins. Romans 7:14-17 states,
So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. So, I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.
Sin causes us to do wrongs, but God gave us self-control and His wisdom from His Word to turn away. We cannot excuse our own sin, but by God’s grace, we are saved. “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:14).
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Romans 3:21-27).
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
In the grand scheme of things, we are always going to be bound to sin and repenting. Our prayers in repentance should come from our hearts and from the Holy Spirit within us. The Holy Spirit will guide you as you are praying repentance and in all prayers.
Your prayers do not have to be perfect, nor do they have to be guided by condemnation from guilt and shame. Trust God in all things in your life. Live your life. But live as your pursuit of righteousness and holy living as God is calling to us.
A Closing Prayer for Repentance
God, we love you with all of our hearts. We know that sin and its desires will always lead us away from righteousness. But I pray that we take heed of the conviction you give us through prayer and repentance as the Holy Spirit guides us.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for taking the sacrifice we could never make in our earthly, sinful bodies. It is in that sacrifice we hope and have faith that we will soon be rid of sin as we come into our new bodies as you, Father, have promised us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Tutye
Rebecca Mashburn (Gordon) has a wonderful husband named Joseph. She has a blog, Trust. Lean, Seek and is working on becoming what God is calling her to. She has a bachelor's in psychology and hopes to one day pursue a degree in biblical counseling. Rebecca loves to be in nature, especially in springtime, and she loves to travel. She has a loving family and hopes one day to have children of her own.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
Video credits for audio, video, photos: Soundstripe, Storyblocks, LightStock, ThinkStock, GettyImages; Voiceover by Stephen Sanders
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This article is part of our prayer resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.