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The Best Prayers of Repentance: How to Repent in Prayer

The Best Prayers of Repentance: How to Repent in Prayer
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Discover the best prayers of repentance to express your deep longing to repent and ask for God's help in turning to Him.

Repentance is a constant theme in the Bible, from the Old Testament to the New Testament. There are abounding examples and stories of our fellow humans who fell into sin and temptation and, through repentance, found their way back to God, His forgiveness, and eternal blessings!

May these prayers of repentance help and inspire you to seek God with your heart, mind, and soul. Even when you fall down, get up again and again!

Custom Prayer of Repentance

Heavenly Father,

I come before you with a humble heart,

confessing my sins of [be specific].

I am truly sorry for my actions and the hurt they may have caused.

I ask for your forgiveness and cleansing through Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Help me to turn away from these sins and walk a path that glorifies you.

Give me the strength to resist temptation and follow your will.

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Psalm 51: Have Mercy On Me O God

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.

Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Daniel's Prayer of Repentance

"O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your city Jerusalem, your holy hill, because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and your people have become a byword among all who are around us.

Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate.

O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.

O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name. (Daniel 9:16-19)

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.

This article is part of our prayer resources 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.

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