Have you ever played a song so many times, that you come to completely abandon it? The emotions you felt when you first heard what became to be known as your “favorite song,” eventually became desensitized… numb. Eventually the song lost its meaning, only to be re-discovered during a crisis or an emotional experience.
This is the case with “Repentance.”
We Christians share different practices regarding the way we pray to God for forgiveness. Although most liturgical prayers of confession are worthy of incorporating into our daily devotions, many share an attribute of rudimentary woodenness that turn our prayers for forgiveness into cold, de-personalized petitions for the removal of forensic guilt. (WOW! That was a long sentence!!)
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines “Repentance” as:
The acknowledgement and condemnation of one’s own sins, coupled with a turning to God. True repentance springs from love of God whom human sin rejects or offends. It includes sorrow for sin committed, confession of guilt, and the purpose of amendment…
The Rite of Holy Baptism of the Eastern Orthodox Church begins with the baptismal candidate outside of the nave in order to actively renounce Satan, and symbolically spit at him while facing West. Then physically, the baptismal candidate turns towards the East of the Nave (where the Altar is) and consecrates himself to Jesus before baptism. This simple ancient act teaches us that “Repentance” is a Verb.
True Christian Repentance (not just awareness of sin), requires the following:
- Assurance that we are God’s children, and that no external source can ever separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:35-39)
- To recognize our sins and feel contrition for them. (James 4:8-10)
- To resolve to turn away from such sins while making every effort necessary that will assist us to remaining faithful. In other words- make up your mind to be faithful to God! (Isaiah 1:16-18)
- Ask God for forgiveness through Jesus Christ, in the assurance that your sins are forgiven. (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14)
- Give thanks to God and praise His Name! (Psalm 32)
If you find difficulty in expressing how you feel while recalling your sins to God, feel free to pray this prayer of repentance with your whole heart, and as many times as you need to. Remember- God never turns away a humble and contrite heart! (Isaiah 66:2; Psalm 51:17)
Dear Lord, although I am a son in your house, I have been irresponsible with the privileges and duties you have bestowed upon me. While your slaves rush to and fro to fulfill your will, I your son have squandered your goods and dishonored your Name before the slaves who labor for your mercies. I have taken for granted your Grace, and licensed myself to secular living, while your slaves cleave to your will for fear of punishment. Oh Father, forgive my arrogance! Oh Father, help me to live as a slave, that in the end I might righteously be called your son. I repent of my sins and turn to you, Master, for you created me to be in fellowship with you, and it is only in you and through your Son, Jesus Christ, that I am truly a human being. Amen.
(may be used without permission as long as the initials “jcr” is referenced. The term “son” is used in the legal, biblical sense of the word, and not exclusively as a designation for gender.)