The Bible teaches that God is willing to forgive us of our sins. For instance, John records that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – (1 John 1:9). But there is a right and wrong way of approaching God in prayer – whether it is supplication, intercession, or repentance.
When asking God for forgiveness, be sure to do it from a remorseful heart, be honest, and ask by faith. Additionally, remember to forgive anyone that has wronged you and make a commitment to make an about-turn.
Let us have a look at each of these principles in more detail below.
Before you even ask God for forgiveness, check your heart to ensure you are remorseful. Your friends may be moved by your eloquent words and elaborate display of emotion but that doesn’t touch God. What really touches God is a remorseful heart.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise. Psalms 51:17
Before God listen to what you are saying in your repentance, he will first check the condition of your heart. If your heart is not in the prayer of repentance, God will not respond to it. The Bible also teaches how God is near to those that are remorseful.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psalms 34:18
The Bible has lots of examples of people who got forgiven because of their remorseful hearts. David is a perfect example of this. Whenever he would find himself in sin, he was quick to run to God with a remorseful heart – and God would always give him a second chance.
Asking God for forgiveness while not being honest is an oxymoron. Before you approach God in prayer, it is best to remember that God already knows you better than anyone else. There is nothing you can do or say that will catch God by surprise. As such, it is best, to be honest in your prayer.
In John 4:24, the Bible says that God is spirit and those who worship him must do it in spirit and in truth. God values truth and that is why it’s important to be honest when approaching God for forgiveness. Do not attempt to cover your sins from God because he is all-knowing anyway.
In Acts 5, Ananias and Saphira tried to be dishonest before God. They had pledged to sell their land and give the proceeds to the ministry. But after selling the parcel of land, they decided to withhold some of the money because they thought the Apostles had no way of knowing. However, the Holy Spirit revealed their dishonesty to Peter. When given a chance to repent, they tried to cover up. To cut the story short, God killed them both for their dishonesty.
When Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray, he gave them what we now refer to as the Lord’s prayer. One of the lines in the prayer says “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us” (Mathew 6:12). The message he was passing across is that we shouldn’t expect forgiveness from God if we in turn were harboring unforgiveness in our hearts.
In another scripture, Jesus taught how prayers can be hindered due to unforgiveness.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Mathew 5:23-24
In short, start with forgiving others first before you can consider approaching God for forgiveness. At times, you may not even realize that you have unforgiveness in your heart until the Holy Spirit reminds you of it. If that happens, be sure to release the person that wronged you from your heart by forgiving them. Only then can you expect to receive forgiveness from God.
Ask by faith
Faith is an important ingredient in any type of prayer. Jesus taught that if you ask anything in his name and in faith, you can be sure of getting positive results.
“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered…Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours ( Mark 11:23,24).
Praying in faith means praying with boldness. God loves when his children approach him with faith and a spirit of boldness. The righteous are linked to a lion in terms of boldness (Proverbs 28:1) and In Hebrews, scripture says to approach God with boldness because that’s the way of obtaining help in our time of need.
The prayer of faith gets answered because God always rewards faith. That’s why he says that anyone who approaches him must do so in faith – a faith that God will respond and that he will reward them (Hebrews 11:6).
In John 5, Jesus heals a sick man and then makes the following statement;
sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee John 5:14
Jesus was telling the recipient of God’s mercy that he should guard the newfound miracle by walking in righteousness or else, the devil might use the sin as ground to bring something worse.
To repent means to turn around. It should be a 180-degree turn. When asking for forgiveness, you shouldn’t be like the proverbial dog that keeps returning to his vomit (Prov. 26:11). On the contrary, you should make an about-turn and change your ways. That is the surest way of attaining God’s forgiveness.
God promises to forgive us if we approach him with a remorseful heart. But as we have seen, there are a couple f things that you should also consider that might hinder your repentance. For instance, if you have something against your brother, it is best to forgive them first. The most important thing is to base your repentance on the scripture which spells out the how and what of repentance as we have established above.