Prayers of Repentance

One of the main themes of lent is confession and repentance. In our current church culture we often don’t like to dwell too long on these themes. We are quick to move past them in order to get to grace and forgiveness. Lent invites us to stay a little bit longer in the place of repentance. Only when we are aware of the full weight of our sins can we also know the full weight of grace. Only when we practice honest and reflective confession can we truly receive the full reality of God’s love. During the week of Ash Wednesday I invite you to use the following meditative prayers to begin your lenten journey.

The following prayers have been inspired by Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises. In some cases I use a paraphrase of Ignatius’ writings in modern language.

Prayer of Repentance I

Read Isaiah 58: 6-7 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter– when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”

  1. Ask God to bring to mind the sins of your city, nation, and world that keep us from God. Review recent events that hinder us from reflecting the good, just and righteous kingdom of God.
  2. Take some time to mourn these sins that separate us from God. Let the weight of these national and global sins be felt in your whole being.
  3. Pray the words of the kyrie eleison “Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.”
  4. In what ways can you fast from participating in the injustices and exploitations that surround you.

Prayer of Repentance II

Read Psalm 139: 23-24 “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

  1. Ask God to bring to mind anything in your life that keeps you from God. Are you carrying any anxious thoughts? What sins have become barriers between you and God? In what ways have you rejected God’s love?
  2. Mourn the things in your life that have created distance between you and God.
  3. Pray the words of the kyrie eleison “Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.”
  4. How will you return to God in this time? What are ways you can draw nearer to God?

For the remaining days of this week, go back to these prayers as necessary. On Sunday, remember the cross and the transforming power of the resurrection to breakdown all the strongholds of sin that surround us.

Fleming, David L. S.J. Modern Spiritual Exercises. Image Books: New York, 1983.