A Prayer for Asking for Forgiveness, without the “Buts”
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin! Ps. 51:1-2
Dear heavenly Father, meditating on this Scripture reminds me that there are few things are as attractive as genuine, heart-searched, no-excuses-offered humility. It’s like a seven course meal in a five star restaurant. When someone offers a contrite heart, takes responsibility for their failure, acknowledges the impact of their choice, asks to be forgiven, and seeks to make restitution—there’s no culinary establishment on the face of the earth that can offer up more exquisite cuisine.
Yet, Lord, when it comes to asking for forgiveness, too often I’m like short-order cook in a fast-food drive through. I hear myself saying things like, “I’m sorry, but you took what I said all wrong.” “I’m sorry, but if you weren’t so sensitive, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.” “I’m sorry, but if you understood what my last couple of weeks were like, you’d cut me some slack.” “I’m sorry, but you know what kind of home I grew up in. I didn’t get the ‘relationship chip.’” “I’m sorry, but that’s just your reality.”
Father, as I pore over your Word, I don’t see a single place where the phrase “I’m sorry, but” is celebrated as the vocabulary of gospel-sanity, genuine humility and loving well. Have mercy on me, indeed. May your unfailing love and great compassion free me from all “I’m sorry, buts.” Instead, I want to offer many more of these: “Will you forgive me?” “I can see I really hurt you. What do you need from me?” “Tell me more about how my words and actions made you feel.” “I’m genuinely sorry and I offer no qualifiers, just an apology.”
I know that in Jesus, all of my sins have already been forgiven—past, present, and future; sins of thought, word, and deed. May such good make it increasingly easier for me to humble myself and ask forgiveness of others, and increasingly difficult for me to remain oblivious to how my pride and lack of brokenness impact people. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.