Father for all the ways we fall short of Your glory, we pray for forgiveness and know that You are always ready and willing to accept us when we turn. But we pray even further Lord for our hearts that we would be a people who are truly repentant and ready to turn from our sin. And we pray not just that we would merely turn from it, but that we would embrace Christ in the place of it because apart from You we can do nothing and will merely fall back into our sin.
We ask Father that you would give us a deep, heart-level apprehension of our sin and it’s wrongness toward others, but also that we would see it as being primarily directed toward You as David says in Psalm 51. Lord, work in us to make amends with others when we’ve hurt and sinned against them and would You make us sympathetic toward the pain we’ve caused. Would you help us to be humble and accept the consequences of the wrong we’ve done and not be defensive, but rather know that we deserve far worse, and at the same time know that in Christ we are covered by His blood. Also Father, when we’ve wronged others, would we not demand forgiveness from them, but let us humbly give space for others to forgive us and heal from the hurt we’ve caused. When we’ve sinned or have been shown our sin, grant us to really and truly change our behavior from the heart and not just temporarily patch over our sin and move on. And at the bottom of all of this Lord, would You strike our hearts with the wonder and immense greatness of Your forgiveness. We can’t change apart from a work of Your grace and that’s precisely what we ask for. Father, far too often we take for granted that You’ve made us right with Yourself through Jesus, but we know that You accept us and love us just as You accept and love Jesus Your Son. Would you captivate our hearts with this truth as we give ourselves to prayer and Your Word. Would the basis of our repentance Lord be our rejoicing in the wonder of Your salvation accomplished in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and know that when we do sin, we can come into Your presence with Your arms opened to readily accept us. In fact Lord, this is the very way we change. May it be so.
A prayer from the Book of Common Prayer for this Third Sunday after Epiphany.
Give us grace, O Lord, to answer readily the call of our Savior Jesus Christ and proclaim to all people the Good News of his salvation, that we and the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.