We typically think of repentance in association with a “come to Jesus” meeting where people give their hearts to the Lord. However, repentance simply means changing our mind about something and is really about agreeing with God about issues in our life, instead of our own ways. Because our ways are not His ways and our thoughts are different from His thoughts (Isa 55:8), repentance should be a regular part of our lives as we come into greater agreement with how He thinks!
Repentance isn’t about feeling guilty or condemned (lies of the enemy) and while tears or emotion may be a part of it, they aren’t necessary. In repentance, we see the truth of God’s love and holiness and allow Him to reveal the areas in our lives that are not pleasing to Him. We then “change our mind” and choose to agree with Him, to receive His forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration as we draw closer to Him. It is part of the renewing of our mind Paul talks about in Romans 12:1, 2.
I love David’s repentance prayer recorded in Psalm 51 as he cries out for God’s mercy, cleansing and to receive a clean heart after his sin with Bathsheba. If he had been praying this prayer on a regular basis, maybe it would have prevented his fall!!! Daily, I need God’s mercy and cleansing! Don’t wait until a “big” mistake to pray prayers of repentance, but make it a regular habit to open your heart and mind to God and ask for Him to show you those areas not in agreement with Him.
Some practical tips:
1. Spend time worshipping and praising God, focusing on attributes of who He is and His love for you.
2. Ask Him to show you any areas in your heart He wants to reveal. Beware of the lies of the enemy – if you feel condemnation, it is not the Lord. Jesus is gentle when He brings conviction and it is always for your best good.
3. It can be easy for you to come up with your own “list” of sins. Resist this and listen for what God wants to reveal to you. He has a perfect timing to deal with issues in your life. Listen for those areas He highlights. They may surprise you (again, our thoughts are not His thoughts). You might be looking for the “big” things and He might want to deal with a “little” one that you might not think is “so bad.”
4. You don’t need to work up emotion for repentance to be “genuine”. Simply agree with what He reveals and ask Him to cleansing you and change your mind about it. How does He see this sin? If you do feel emotion, let it flow.
5. End with praise and rejoicing as you agree with Him in whom He has called you to be – His favorite one!!! You are covered in His righteousness and He delights over you!
6. How long do we repent? Until we see fruits of repentance (Matt 3:8). Bearing fruit takes time. Changing our minds is a choice, but also a process. Continue to walk out repentance until you see the fruit in your life – walking in agreement with God in that area of your life!