Luke 15:11-24 has amazing lessons on how to pray for forgiveness. This portion of scripture talks about the famous prodigal son and how he went back to his father to ask for forgiveness.
When Jesus told that parable, He made sure to apply principles that make a prayer of forgiveness effective. No matter what sin you’ve done, the principles Jesus taught are guaranteed to earn you forgiveness.
I’ll walk you through those principles so that you start using them when praying for forgiveness from God.
Forgiveness is a gift from God. There is nothing we can do to deserve forgiveness from God. God forgives us because it is His nature.
When Jesus told us the parable of the prodigal son, He wanted us to understand that our heavenly Father is forgiving in nature. Jesus also wanted us to have confidence in asking for forgiveness from God.
It is easier to ask for forgiveness when you are confident that God is forgiving. Without the assurance that God forgives, you will be discouraged to pray for forgiveness.
When you are praying for forgiveness, I want you to see it as asking for a tangible gift. Usually, God likens His gifts to objects that we know so that it is easier for us to ask for them.
A good example is the reference to the character of the Holy Spirit as fruits. Jesus referred to Himself as bread of life and living water.
The references make it simpler for us to believe. If you often struggle with believing when asking for forgiveness, see it as a physical object that God gives you as a gift.
That way, asking for it from God becomes easy.
How to Pray for Forgiveness of Sins according to the Bible
1. Acknowledge the suffering that sin brings you
Before you open your mouth to pray for forgiveness, you have to assess the pain that the sin you want to repent for brings you. Without pain, you can’t pray for forgiveness.
In the Old Testament, God used to send the Israelites into slavery whenever they sinned. God knew that He needed to inflict pain on the Israelites for them to understand that God hates their sins.
When the pain would become too much, the Israelites would turn to God and He would set them free from slavery.
You have to understand that the Israelites only repented after it was clear to them that the pain of their slavery was not worth the enjoyment they were getting from sinning against God.
The Bible tells us in Job 20:12 that sin is sweet in the mouth and the sinner hides it under his tongue. Despite sin being sweet in the mouth, the Bible assures us that it becomes poison in the stomach.
You can’t repent when sin is still in your mouth and you are enjoying it. It is only after the sin has turned to poison in your stomach that you will be pushed to pray for forgiveness.
This is why I usually advise people to avoid praying for sins they do not know they committed. It is impossible to repent of sins you do not know.
It is true that we commit some sins unknowingly but we can’t repent of them unless God reveals them to us.
Jesus came to show how sinful we were. Before Jesus came, everyone claimed to love God. But after Jesus came and we crucified Him for no reason, it brought out the true nature of our hearts.
Peter never knew he would deny God when times get tough until when Jesus came. After Peter denied Jesus, he realized how pathetic he was and he humbled himself and asked God for forgiveness.
God forgave him and helped him overcome his weakness.
Before you pray for forgiveness, ask God to reveal to you the true nature of your sin.
The prodigal son only ever considered going back to his father to ask for forgiveness after he suffered terribly for his decisions. Before the pain, he kept himself busy with the pleasures of the foreign land he went to.
Once you taste the pain of the sin you committed, it will be easy to repent.
2. Formulate your Prayer of Forgiveness
Once you realize that you have sinned through the pain that you experience, you need to formulate a prayer for forgiveness. The prayer you formulate should come from your miserable state.
This is why I insisted that you have to know the pain that the sin you did brought you. Without the pain, you can’t formulate a genuine forgiveness prayer.
Usually, God is willing to help you understand the seriousness of your sin but you have to allow Him to show it to you. Sometimes you have to ask Him to show it to you.
The Bible tells us in John 16:8 that the Holy Spirit convicts that world of sin. Without that conviction, you can’t formulate a prayer for forgiveness.
The forgiveness prayer you formulate will always reflect your sincerity. The Bible tells us in 1st John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, God is just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Your prayer of forgiveness is basically a confession of what you’ve realized you did. Make it as detailed as you can even though God forgives even if you make an average prayer.
The father of the prodigal son forgave the boy even before the boy could get to him to confess his sin. The boy had a script but the father cared more that the son had come back.
God does the same thing. By the time we make up our minds to confess our sin to God, He is already pleased with us. The confession you make is only for legal purposes; if the devil comes to accuse you.
Therefore, formulate a prayer for forgiveness for the sake of shooting down any doubts that the devil may throw at you.
3. Believe the Prayer of Forgiveness you made
For most people, praying for forgiveness is not as hard as believing they have been forgiven. The devil knows this struggle and he often capitalizes on it.
After making your prayer for forgiveness, you may struggle to believe that God has forgiven you. But the simplest trick to use is to say to yourself “If the devil brings accusations against me, I’ll point to the prayer I have just made”.
In simple terms, the prayer of forgiveness is like a confession you give in court. When you plead guilty, the prosecutor has no more business accusing you. If the judge acquits you, the prosecutor has no right to protest.
The confession you make is your defense. If the devil reminds you of your sin, tell him you already confessed it. Soon he will get tired and leave you.
Therefore, don’t be afraid to pray for forgiveness and when you pray, use your confession as your defense.
Until next time…Peace!