7 Prayer of repentance in the Bible

Prayer of repentance in the Bible

Repentance or turning away from sin is an important theme in the Bible. There are seven types of repentance mentioned in Scripture which we will look at today. We will also look at how to pray this type of prayer and how to use it with others.

Is Psalm 51 a prayer of repentance?

Indeed, Psalm 51 is a suitable reference point for a prayer offered in absolute repentance of sin. This portion of the Bible captures the solemn moment of the great King David as he acknowledged the grievous sin of treachery, conspiracy, and adultery he committed against God and humanity when he was accosted by Prophet Nathan about the consequences of his actions.

A more credible exposition of Psalm 51 as a prayer of repentance is that it expresses all prevalent attributes of forgiveness of iniquity through genuine repentance. It further reiterates that God is greatly pleased when a Sinner acknowledges his sins and pleads for forgiveness which he, in turn, bestows wisdom.

Psalm 51 is an unfeigned exclamation to God from a perpetrator of iniquity. Though the context of Psalm 51 is circumvented around an ancient King, it is noteworthy that every sinner must feel remorseful over their sins and seek cleansing, blotting, and washing away of sins to obtain steadfast love, wisdom, and mercy of God.

Prayer of repentance in the Bible

Although many prayers of repentance are offered in the Bible, few significant cases inherent in the Old Testament will be highlighted.

David’s Prayer of Repentance – Psalm 51

Psalm51 vs 1 – 4

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

The incident that elicited King David’s repentant prayers in Psalm 51 has a historical background in 2 Samuel 11: 1 – 17. It all began while King David was strolling on the rooftop of the King’s palace. The King observed a woman bathing and inquired of her his servants. The King was informed that she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, one of his best Generals in the Army.

Notwithstanding her marital status, King David summoned her and had carnal knowledge of her.
However, the resultant effect of the immoral act was pregnancy. For King David to cover up his sin and equally avert confrontation from Uriah if he eventually becomes aware of what transpired, the King conspired with his battle War Lord, Joab, to assign Uriah to the fiercest battle position with the Ammonites where he will get killed.

After Uriah was treacherously killed, the Lord sent Prophet Nathan to meet King David, pronounce God’s verdict upon his life, and state the repercussions of his evil deed.

After the pronouncement, King David instantly fell to the ground and wept profusely for God to have “mercy” upon him and “blot out his transgression.” This acknowledges the gravity of his sinful state, thereby calling for “mercy” from a loving and kind God.
King David, who is also a Psalmist, prayed for repentance with four notable pleas:

  1. Have mercy upon my sinful soul as a loving and kind God because I have acknowledged my iniquity. Tamper justice mercifully as a just God.
  2. Blot out my sins so they will never be remembered as I have acknowledged and desired truth with a contrite heart.
  3. Wash away my sins as I have wholly confessed my sins and be ready to undergo the process of purification.
  4. Cleanse my iniquity as the only one who has the power to make whole so that I may not appear detestable in your presence.

The Psalmist’s consistent reference to how steadfast the Love of God is sufficient unto a repentant sinner indicates the importance of true repentance in the sight of God as it will accrue forgiveness.

Daniel’s Prayer of Repentance

This prayer of repentance is offered in Daniel 9:3-19. Daniel understood the declaration by Prophet Jeremiah concerning the years in which there would be desolation in Jerusalem due to the sins of his brethren. Therefore, Daniel made up his mind to offer intercessory prayer.

His repentant intercessory actions were to declare a “fast,” put on sack clothes, and pour ashes on his head. Every sinner must show signs of humility in their quest to offer prayers of repentance seeking forgiveness. Denying oneself food, pouring ashes on the head, and wearing sack clothes is the most derogatory form of appearance and action.

In trying to display how sorrowful a sinner feels towards his iniquity, he subjects himself to a disgusting appearance by divesting all majestic apparel.

Knowing God’s vast mercies upon a sinner who confesses his sins, Daniel reminded God of his covenant with those who are mournful over their sins, love him, and keep his commandments.

As offered by Daniel, the confession of sins is a prerequisite factor in a prayer of repentance. Without confession, it seems there is no tendency for change towards the object and subject of sin. To expose sin by uttering confession paves the way for forgiveness.

Sins create a barrier between God and people. The guilt of sin brings shame and reproach to man. Recognizing one’s sin is the stage of self-realization. At this point, the sinner accepts full responsibility for his actions and actions.

Saul’s Prayer of Repentance

Saul lifted his voice in prayers for repentance when Prophet Samuel rebuked him for greed, rebellion, stubbornness, and disobedience towards the Lord’s command in 1 Samuel 15:18-19.

18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; wage war against them until you have wiped them out.’ 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”

1 Samuel 15:18-19

The Lord sent King Saul on a revenge mission to utterly destroy the Amalekites for the ambush they laid for the Israelites when they came out of captivity from the land of Egypt. But alas! King Saul spared King Agag of Amalek and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good.

However, unlike David’s prayer, Saul’s prayer of repentance was not offered directly to God, but it was offered to the Prophet Samuel for intercession as vested in 1 Samuel 15:24-25. “Now, therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.”

King Saul’s shift of blame on his men for sparing the spoils was a sign of stubbornness and an unrepentant spirit. Saul further showed signs of selfishness. He made no further argument with Samuel but rendered a plea of repentance when the verdict of God’s rejection of his Kingship was pronounced. He offered to plead only when his Kingship was at risk.

He accepted acting before the sentiments of the people instead of being steadfast to the instructions of the Lord, perhaps the reason for his divided kingdom because he never wholly owned up to his responsibility.

A repentant prayer without a contrite heart and broken spirit may not fully earn the mercies of God.

Nineveh’s Prayer of Repentance

The people of Nineveh committed grievous sins to a sickening point where God could no longer condone their sins. All manner of atrocities were perpetrated in the land of Nineveh. Therefore, God sent Prophet Jonah in the book of Jonah 3:4 to declare the judgment of the Lord upon the city of Nineveh.

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. 

Jonah 3:6-10

When the King and the people of the great city of Nineveh heard the judgment of God through his Prophet, they trembled. So the King made a degree in Jonah 3:7- 8 ordering every beast and man to taste no food and water but should wear sackcloth and pray in anguish to God and also divert from every evil doings for God can turn away his fierce anger and relent from punishing them.

See – Nineveh repentance and deliverance

God had mercy upon the city, as stated in Jonah 3:10. The city of Nineveh never perished due to their abandonment of evil acts.

Intercessory prayer for repentance

Gracious Father, I request that you cleanse my heart from any sin and expel all sins that might have skipped my mind for confession so that it won’t hinder my intercessory prayers to others.

I present sinners all over the world to you, oh gracious Lord!

Help us break out from the shackles of sin. Let not our sins rise to you any longer, for it will be a barrier between you and us.

Breathe unto our souls the ever refreshing abundant Grace to thread in the path of righteousness. Have mercy upon us, O God, according to your loving kindness and tender mercies. Blot out our transgressions.

Prayer of confession and repentance

Dear divine father, I bow my head in your holy presence to confess my sins. I have engaged in a lot of sins which I cannot take account of all of it. Sometimes, I behave as if there is no God as I delve deeper into the fabrics of sin, and I become hopeless and unworthy before your presence.

Therefore, I come today to seek forgiveness and the ability to resist sin. Grant me a clear conscience from my confession and open my heart to fully accept you so that I will give witnesses unto your loving kindness.

A short prayer of repentance

Heavenly Father, my sins are magnanimous for me to bear; they are too glaring to be hidden and too deep to unwind. Forgive whatever vile utterances slip from my mouth. Look beyond every evil thought of my heart and what has become for me a consuming fire of judgment.

Deliver me from the captivity of my past sins as I cannot change them. Pave out a new future and guide me not to fall short of your glory.

Usher unto me the Grace to flourish more in your likeness and image.

This I pray through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.

Prayer of repentance and cleansing

Mighty God, I render all praise and adoration to your mighty name as you grant me the opportunity and benefit to come into your glorious and fabulous presence today to pray for repentance and seek cleansing and purification of my sins.

I decree and am purified from all my sins before You, Eternal Father. Hallelujah! Christ has offered atonement for my sins on the cross of Calvary so that I will be cleansed. I am not worthy of this cleansing, but the Grace of the saving lamb made it possible.

I thank you, Lord, for allowing your son Jesus Christ to be my Saviour.

Family repentance prayer

I plead for mercy from the throne of Grace so that I can boldly stand and pray for the sins of my family with confidence and that you may answer my prayers.

On behalf of my family, I offer a prayer of repentance, for we have sinned against you. I stand in the gap for my family to pour my heart, confess, and turn away from evil. I ask You to forgive us, Oh God! deliver us from cruel and vile ways that are responsible for us to abandon, become unfaithful, and walk away from your healing sight!


Prayer for repentance and restoration

Lord Jesus, I have acknowledged the ruin that sin has caused in my life. The loss and excruciating and disastrous effect of sin is strongly felt. But, in all honesty, dear Lord, I feel that nothing excellent or satisfying may ensue after this horrendous incident.

Still, I believe that restoration will be granted unto me by your unfathomable love and kindness. I know that this plague of sin will no longer linger.

Dear Lord, guide and guard my life as you restore it to the guiltless and blameless standard. I am ready to undergo the restoration process, for I know that the ultimate end will be magnificent. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer for salvation

Jesus Christ, the Lord of my salvation, I know that you alone performed wonders on the cross of Calvary to bestow salvation unto me. You gave up your life for the remission of my sins so that I may have eternal life. Therefore, I surrender my life to you, oh Lord.

I welcome you into my life as my personal Lord and Saviour. Bestow unto me the Grace to remain in your salvation till the end of my life. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray.



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