Prayer of repentance as a church, individuals and a country

Lord, please help us to pray now, and teach us how to pray.

Lord, we think you may be telling us as a church that we need to repent: to turn away from wrong things we are doing.

Some of us here may have a very clear idea of things we personally are doing wrong that we need to turn away from. For those of us who are trapped in habitual sins, or in cycles of harming someone else, or in harmful patterns of thought towards others, we pray that you would make repentance possible. Through that repentance we ask you to bring about real change and healing in our lives.

Some of us may not be clear about what sin we need to turn away from, either as individuals or as a church. We pray that you would reveal to us where we need to change. Particularly as a church, we ask that if this idea we have that you may be asking us to repent is right then please show us very clearly what we have been doing wrong, and give us the courage to speak about it, and to turn away from it.

In all this we know we need to trust in you with all our hearts, and not lean on our own understanding. Please cut through our rationalisations and excuses and reveal to us what is important to you.

Let’s take a moment to ask God to help us turn away from wrong things we are doing.

Lord Jesus, we are painfully aware of how far we fall short of your perfect plans for our lives. We throw ourselves on your mercy, and we take comfort in the promise that you speak to the Father in our defence. As we realise the depth of forgiveness we are asking from you, we see the need to forgive others in response.

Some of us here may need to forgive people who have hurt us. Some of us may need to forgive things that seem unforgiveable. Some of us may be caught in deep cycles of not forgiving. Some of us may be fooling ourselves that there is nothing to forgive. In each of those cases we are aware that without your help we can’t begin to forgive. Be generous with your help, Lord – what we ask is impossible, yet you can do it.

As a church, we also may need to forgive. Within the church there may be hurts or grudges we need to give up. We may need to forgive those who attack or scorn us for being Christians. Please help us to trust you to deliver justice for wrongs against you and us, and to follow your example of answering hate with love.

Let’s take a moment to ask God to help us forgive.

Lord, not only as individuals, but also as a country, we have sinned against you. We are sorry for the indifferent and the malicious hurts we have inflicted on countries and people. We turn away from this sin, and we determine, with your help, to try to be part of honouring you as a country. We want the UK to set an example in generosity, loving action, and peace-making. We want to bring glory to your name.

We also see the need for our nation to forgive those who have harmed us. Whether through war, terrorism, scorn or propaganda, we ask for your help in forgiving our enemies. May we demonstrate your character by loving those who hurt us.

Let’s take a moment to pray for our country.

[Prayed at my church on 2008-07-05.]

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