10 Powerful Prayers for Repentance and Restoration

Some people jeer at the mere mention of offering prayers of repentance. I used to be one of them. We tend to struggle with pride. And prideful people do not like to admit we’re wrong. 

Yet here is the truth as Christ-followers: God’s forgiveness, mercy, and grace are freely extended to everyone who comes to Him with genuine repentance. The Bible calls it a “contrite heart.” God wants to hear our prayers, including that daily hard prayer of repentance.

prayers for repentance

What is Repentance?

The plain definition of repentance is  “deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing.” So true repentance begins as a posture of our heart. The key ingredient is the power of the Holy Spirit, who convicts you with godly grief.

Nothing hinders your prayers and intimacy with the Lord like unconfessed sin. I keep a journal of things I confess so that I can see how God is changing my heart and life.

Getting Real

It is vital to keep a short account of your secret sins (and public ones) to maintain a right spirit of sincere repentance. As soon as you become aware of a sinful attitude or blatant sin, don’t wait to lay it out before God. 

The longer you hold on to a destructive path of sin, a harsh tongue, or wicked ways, the longer you delay God’s abundant mercy to cleanse you.

His steadfast love means that it is your heavenly Father’s good pleasure to give you a clean heart once again. Making your prayer life a way of life brings endless times of refreshing from God’s grace. 


What’s the Point?

Repentance has two primary purposes: (1) to acknowledge your sins, and (2) to invite you into deep examination of your choices and path of righteousness.

In repentance, you seek God’s forgiveness of sins and confess any evil way hidden in your heart. You may come to God with a broken spirit, but you receive His great mercy, forgiveness, and unconditional love.

In his 95 Theses, repentance was the very first item on Martin Luther’s list: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ [Matthew 4:17], he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” In fact, items 2 and 3 of Luther’s 95 Theses were also about repentance. Repentance was so important that it occupied the top three spots on his list. 

The point of repentance is not to constantly remind yourself of how bad you are. Repentance humbles you to acknowledge God alone as sovereign over your life. 

As you confess your sins, the act of repentance reminds you of the incredible goodness of your merciful God as He wipes the slate clean once again. God’s help and great love poured over you through the blood of Jesus are all the help you need.

Luther's monastery in Eisenach

10 Powerful Prayers of Repentance

Each repentance prayer begins with God’s Word for a biblical foundation. Let’s run into the open arms of our dear Lord.

1 John 1:19 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, I confess my sinful nature and longing after the things of this world. I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done and by what I have left undone. I have not loved You with my whole heart; I have not loved my neighbors as myself. Guide me, O Lord, along the right path all the days of my life. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. Forgive me, renew me, and lead me, so that I may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 


Prayer #2

Psalm 51:1-2 – “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.

Prayer (directly from Psalm 51:3-4, 7-10): “For I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”


Prayer #3

Psalm 19:14 – “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” 

Prayer: Dear God, right now I cannot even discern the errors in my thoughts or ungodly intentions of my heart. But You see my inward being. Only You can see the truth in my secret heart. Cleanse me from any faults that I cannot see because You are a forgiving God. I confess and repent of those sins that I have intentionally committed. Free me from anything in my life that hinders my walk with You. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 


Prayer #4

James 4:8-10 – “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

Prayer: Lord God, what hope You give me in those words! I long to draw near to you, but my unconfessed sin stands in the way. I confess my sins to you right now and repent with sorrow. Bring a fresh awareness of the seriousness of my sin and how it separates me from You. My sin has caused that distance and I confess it now. I pray that Your mighty name be exalted in my life. Thank you for drawing near to me when I continuously pull away from You.


Prayer #5

2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, each day I am surrounded by the sins of the world – and that includes pride. I have allowed pride to keep me from humbling myself before You. This world does not celebrate humbleness, but You honor it. Father, turn my face toward You. Cleanse me of pride and anything else that keeps me from seeking You. I pray that Your good things continuously show me a better way to live a new life centered on You.


Prayer #6

Matthew 6:9-13 – “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Prayer: O God of my salvation, the “Lord’s prayer” that Christ Jesus taught the disciples demonstrates how You long for us to live free of guilt, sin, and unforgiveness. I confess my sins to you now, Father. Give me the tenacity and strength to mourn over and repent of my sin to continuously turn my heart toward You. Thank you for running after this prodigal son every single time.

prayer journal

Prayer #7

Joel 2:12 – “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, I confess that I have put my agenda ahead of Yours. I have trusted my timing instead of Yours. I have trusted my own cleverness rather than leaned into Your holiness. And have not lived in a way that shows the glory of God in my life. Purify my heart, Lord. I ask for Your forgiveness. Set my feet on the right path that leads to the kingdom of heaven and intimacy with You. 


Prayer #8

2 Peter 3:9 ​- “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Prayer: Lord God, You could condemn the whole world, including me, at this very moment. Yet You want us to live eternally with You rather than perish in our sin. Father, I repent of my sins whether I know about them or I am blind to them. I find that repentance is painful, but my sorrow is a gift of Your grace that draws me closer to You. Thank you for loving me so much.

prayer journal

Prayer #9

9) Acts 3:19 – “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, what hope this verse brings! You promise that when I repent You faithfully wipe out my sins and refresh me in the Lord. I confess my sins, whether known or unknown, and am heartily sorry for them. I humbly ask for Your forgiveness and desire for You alone to put my feet on the right path each day. Keep the Word of the Lord alive in my heart as I follow You all the days of my life.


Prayer #10

10) 2 Corinthians 7:9-10a – “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for working in me godly grief that produces true repentance that leads to eternal life. It is easy to follow the wrong path of worldly repentance where I’m only sorry that I got caught. Continue to give me a willing spirit toward good deeds and serving others in Your glorious name. My specific prayer is that you remove every thought or intention of my heart that does not draw me closer to You.


Worldly Sorrow vs. Godly Sorrow

The Apostle Paul talks about godly grief and worldly grief (both known as sorrow). It is important to recognize the difference between these two kinds of repentance to determine whether you are offering genuine repentance – whether to God and another person. 

Worldly Sorrow

Worldly sorrow tends to focus on regret over the consequences of behavior. It says, “I’m sorry I got caught. I’m sorry I have to face the consequences for what I did.” It is sorrow over the consequences you face instead of sorrow over the hurt you have inflicted. 

Worldly sorrow is self-centered; it focuses on the suffering of “poor little me” as you face the consequences of your actions. It says, “Yes, I did that, but now nobody trusts me anymore. Everybody’s talking about me. Everybody’s mad at me.” Me is a key word with worldly sorrow.

Worldly grief produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10b).


Godly Sorrow 

Godly sorrow says, “I’m sorry for who I’ve become. I’m sorry that I’ve become so deceptive and dishonest. I’m sorry for how my behaviors have hurt you and destroyed our relationship.” Do you see the difference? 

Godly sorrow owns up to the sin and focuses on how to repair the damage, inviting repentance and restitution. That’s why the Bible says godly sorrow leads to salvation and freedom. 

A person who exhibits godly sorrow is determined to walk away from the behavior and move toward repairing the damaged relationship.

I wrote an entire Bible study about forgiveness because it is vital to keep our hearts moldable in God’s hands. Godly sorrow is key.


God’s Mercy

In His great mercy, God did not dismiss your sins as inconsequential. Rather, He added them to the weight of sin His Son bore on the cross for you, and He remembers them no more. 

When you separate God from vengeance and justice, the cross becomes superfluous. And the cross is anything but superfluous.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

psalm 103

It is easy to spend your days pointing out other people’s sins and shortcomings. Spending time asking God to search your heart to convict you of your sin keeps you humble.

As a child of God, following God’s commandments and seeking the will of God are cornerstones to intimacy with Him.

If you have a hard time confessing sins, remember that His great compassion and love always welcome you into the presence of the Lord. God’s plan for your life is perfect. Lean in!

Related Posts:

About the Author
Donna is a sought-after author, speaker, and Bible teacher. Her path from being unchurched to becoming passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Read her God-breathed journey: “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her here.

{Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, the ministry may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!}

What Does the Bible Say About Forgive And Forget?

When my ex-husband committed adultery six years into our marriage, I did not tell anyone. I was ashamed that perhaps people would think I was a bad wife. Was I supposed to forgive and forget?

Perhaps I had done something to turn him away. Or the worst, I wasn’t “putting out” enough. In other words, I was blaming myself and absorbing guilt that was not mine.



  1. Is Forgetting a Hurt Even Possible?
  2. Three Options for Dealing with our Wound
  3. Only God has the Power to Forget
  4. The Definition of Forgiveness
  5. What Forgiveness is NOT

God did not give human beings the divine power to erase our memories. We cannot forget when someone hurts us. However, we still need to walk toward the soul freedom that forgiveness promises.

So what can we do to get past the hurt to begin the forgiveness process?

The Unseen Wounds

When you are wronged, you are handed an internal wound. Though unseen, we never forget the pain caused by that wound.

The larger the pain, the larger the wound. Some days, I truly felt like I was bleeding out of my skin, but no one knew.

I prayed constantly for God to give me the grace to forgive that adultery. In tears, I often pleaded with God for His healing. For the Holy Spirit to give me the strength to move past that horrific wound. And for the courage to be intimate in my marriage again. For trust in my spouse to be repaired.

In His steadfast love, God granted all of those requests and more. Forgiveness flowed, our relationship was repaired, and He pulled our marriage out of the depths of the sea. And even though they had been forgiven, those memories were stored in the hard drives of my mind. Yours are, too.

Seven years later, I discovered my husband’s past sins had resurfaced and he was having multiple affairs, which ultimately ended our marriage. I cannot even fully describe the level of anger, hurt, and unforgiveness that welled up inside me.

Past hurts raged to the surface and I knew I needed to seek help for my own sake. I was drowning in emotional pain.

For the first time in my life, I sought Christian counseling. The absolute last thing I needed was for any root of bitterness to take hold.

It took a solid year for God’s forgiveness to flow in my heart to move me toward forgiving my ex-husband. I cannot stress strongly enough the importance of forgiveness in order to embrace a new life.

Is Forgetting A Hurt Even Possible?

We’ve all heard the phrase, “If you haven’t forgotten, you haven’t forgiven.” Perhaps you have even said it because I certainly used to. It’s easy to say but impossible to do. While we may be able to forget small slights, we remember life-altering wounds.

On the other hand, remembering certain kinds of hurt is usually beneficial. For instance, I don’t touch hot stoves because I did that once. Lesson learned.

Our memory can instruct us on how to avoid similar hurt in the future. It’s those heart hurts caused by unacceptable behavior or harsh words that can trip us up for a very long time.

A Stationary Bicycle Going Nowhere Fast

When we buy into the forgive-and-forget lie, we end up berating ourselves when we remember our wounds. We get frustrated and spend futile time and energy trying to make ourselves forget again. It is a useless, unproductive cycle that only succeeds in embedding the hurt deeper.

Satan loves the forgive-and-forget lie because it wastes our time and energy and always lands us right back where we started: remembering the wound. It’s a stationary bicycle going nowhere fast.

There is no solution to the lie of “forgive and forget.” That pot only keeps stirring toxic emotions.

Three Options for Dealing with our Wound

When someone hurts us (wounds us), we have three main options:

1. Hand It Back

When you hand back a wound, it is called revenge. It looks something like this: “You did this to me? Then, this is what I will do to you.” You then throw the wound back at them with a vengeance. Whether verbally or physically, handing the wound back through revenge intends to harm.

2. Internalize or Hide It

This happens when shame plays a part in the wound. Rape victims deal with this because some people still believe the nauseating assumption that somehow the victim invited or deserved it. The victim may hide it to avoid being called loose. Shame is the single biggest factor in hiding a wound.

3. Hand it Up to Jesus

When we hand our wounds up to Jesus Christ, we take them out of circulation. The wounds do not have the opportunity to fester in us or spread to others. Taking the wounds out of circulation stops the cycle. That is how Jesus patterned forgiveness. He felt the wounds, absorbed the pains, and forgave them from the cross. He took them out of circulation for eternity.

When you and I hand up our wounds to Jesus, He renews our strength from the inside out. Right where that wound is hiding. And He faithfully begins to work true forgiveness in us.

Even though you and I cannot forget a wound, we can certainly choose how to deal with the pain of their offense going forward. We can choose options 1 and 2 above and let bitterness sink in, or we can go with option 3 and live in the freedom that forgiveness brings.

Only God Has the Power to Forget

In Hebrews 8, God’s Word says: “For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more” (Hebrews 8:12, ESV). God promises to forget our sins (the precise meaning of which could fill a whole book), but that is an unrealistic standard to put on ourselves. He is God. We are not.

What is the Definition of Forgiveness?

If you asked a dozen people to define forgiveness, you would likely hear twelve different responses. Since Christians are commanded to extend forgiveness, we need to clearly understand what it means.

Webster’s dictionary defines forgiveness as “to excuse a fault or offense; to stop feeling anger or resentment against; and to absolve from payment of.” Excuse and absolve are difficult verbs to swallow in the context of pain.

Thankfully, our Heavenly Father provides many Bible verses to navigate the storm. {Download 31-Day Forgiveness Bible Reading Plan}

forgiveness bible reading plan

The Greek word in the New Testament for forgive (aphiēmi) means “to send away.” In Christ Jesus, God packed up our transgressions (which include unforgiveness) and permanently sent them away. In Psalm 103:12, God promises: “As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.”

The thing about the east and west is that there is no end. Once you start heading east, you are always heading east until you change directions. Once you journey west, you are always journeying west.

By the grace of God, He removes our sins and remembers them no more.

Hate and Love Cannot Coexist

When someone hurts us, God commands us to forgive because hate and bitterness do not line up with His teaching to love. Hate and love cannot coexist. Forgiveness cannot blossom when roots of unforgiveness hide in the soil of our hearts.

Thankfully, God does not simply issue the command to forgive, sit back, and watch us struggle. He provides the Source of power that enables us to fulfill His command.

The Apostle Paul wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, ESV).

The power of Christ in us enables us to forgive the deepest wounds. Trust me. I have been divorced for twelve years now. Had I refused to let God work His forgiveness in me and then through me, I would be an angry, bitter, hot mess about now. A healed heart is FREEDOM.

Forgiveness is Commanded

Jesus talked about forgiveness more than two dozen times in the Gospels, including a key part of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:12) and teaching His disciples to forgive others “seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:22). He even asked God to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross (Luke 23:34). That includes you and me.

Forgiveness is not God’s suggestion; it is His command: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:12-13, ESV).

We must also forgive. That’s a hard truth to digest when the mere thought of forgiving your offender makes you sick to your stomach. I certainly did want to forgive my ex-husband. But those negative feelings were toxins in my soul.

It’s amazing how easily we throw around the word forgiveness until we are asked to step forward through the pain and extend it personally. But forgiveness is the only way we will survive bleeding out from the spiritual and emotional wounds caused by the hurtful words and actions of others.

The Cost of Forgiveness

The heart of forgiveness always beats with liberation and freedom. Not necessarily for those who hurt you. But for you. Forgiveness is costly. We struggle not to lash out at those who hurt us.

We’re absorbing the debt and cost of the consequences instead of taking it out on the perpetrator. We suffer, and it hurts terribly. Surrendering that pain to God is the only pathway toward healing.

Some people say that it feels like dying. They are not wrong. The cost of forgiveness is death. Death to our desire for revenge. Death to seeking payment for the hurt they caused.

The cost of forgiveness is death. Just ask Jesus. He sacrificed His life to forgive us eternally. And His forgiveness leads us to experience a resurrection of new life centered in Him.

So start by asking God for just one small step today on the road toward forgiveness. Tomorrow, ask Him for another small step. The road ends in the death of bitterness and resurrection to life. The dead-end road ends at Calvary. 

Does Forgiveness Condone Their Hurtful Actions?

The hardest struggle we face in extending forgiveness is falsely believing that we are somehow condoning their actions. That lie comes straight from the devil. The enemy loves weaving a web of toxicity around that lie because we want those who hurt us to pay for their transgressions.

Forgiveness does not mean condoning someone’s bad behavior. It means releasing their judgment and consequences to God.

As God faithfully opens doors for me to travel and speak with groups of women all over the country, I have discovered that forgiveness is often misunderstood.

Some believe that forgiveness should only be extended when their perpetrator asks for it. Or when they have groveled enough. But when is enough enough? Your pain cannot be undone, only surrendered to God.

Others believe that forgiveness means you must reconcile with the person who hurt you and go skipping through the tulip fields into the sunset together. Neither could be further from the truth. In order to extend forgiveness, we need to clearly understand what it is not. 

What Forgiveness is NOT

Forgiveness Is Not Excusing a Sin or Crime

This is one of the most common objections to extending forgiveness. Many people often equate forgiveness with letting someone off the hook; like somehow forgiveness approves what they did because we didn’t force them to make it right. But that’s not what forgiveness means.

For instance, a rape victim suffers horrible atrocities, and there are legal consequences for the violator. The victim can forgive her attacker yet still follow the legal process to take the proper course for her attacker to reap the punishment for his actions.

Sin is not okay. It can be forgiven, but it should not be excused. By God’s grace, we become wiser regarding future interactions with that person.

Forgiveness Is Different from Reconciliation

Forgiveness takes one. It is extended from one individual to another and released. Reconciliation takes two people who agree to set aside past hurtful behavior, communicate to repair the relationship, and move forward together.

I realized that reconciliation for my marriage was not possible due to the kind of women with whom my ex-husband was involved. If we had reconciled and continued in our marriage, I stood a very real chance of contracting HPV, HIV, or AIDS.

My ex-husband was a habitual adulterer, so reconciling and remaining married would have placed my health (and ultimately my life) in danger.

In situations where habitual abuse (whether physical or verbal) has occurred, reconciliation may not be possible because safe mental and physical boundaries must be established. But forgiveness is still commanded.

Forgiveness Is Not about Justice or Consequences

Forgiveness does not obligate the forgiver to protect the offender from reaping the consequences of his or her actions. Consequences are usually what it takes for offenders to change their behavior. If their actions have broken the law (rape, harming a child, etc.), we can and should follow through with appropriate legal action.

To prevent a perpetrator from raping again, testifying at trial is certainly appropriate. There are always consequences for sin, but exacting the consequences of their actions is God’s job, not ours.

He alone calls unrepentant sinners to answer for their actions. Even in such extreme circumstances when reconciliation is not possible, we still move toward forgiveness.

Forgiveness Is Not about the Offender

It is not our job to determine whether someone deserves forgiveness of sins. God never tells us in His Word to extend it only when the offender begs for it. Some people hold grudges and stay angry until they believe their offender has suffered enough. But how do we determine when enough is enough?

Hate and anger have consuming power, and those toxins can control and define us. When we allow unforgiveness to consume us, the object of our wrath actually has control over us. It can keep our hearts dangling over the fire, so to speak.

We are washed clean by baptismal grace; therefore, our merciful God does not withhold forgiveness from us—and we are to follow His lead. Forgiving others as God has forgiven us means that we are obeying God’s command. Yet forgiveness is also a gift to ourselves of a life free from bitterness and anger.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality” (Colossians 3:23–25, ESV).

Did you notice that the Lord is the focus of those verses? The Lord handles the wrongs done to us as we heartily serve Him.

Forgiveness Is Not Artificial Nonchalance

Have you ever tried to pretend someone’s actions or words did not hurt you? Me too. But when I remember that hurt for the tenth time in an hour, I cannot keep pretending. Pretending there is nothing to forgive results in anger and resentment down the road.

What we harbor internally eventually surfaces externally. Forgiveness means we acknowledge the hurtful actions or words, pray for God to provide insight on how best to convey them gracefully to the offender, and allow God to move us toward Him for healing. 

Forgiveness Is Not Avoidance

Some people believe that out of sight means out of mind. As long as we avoid our offenders, everything will be just fine. Although that person may not be around, the hurt they inflicted remains. It must be acknowledged, grieved, and forgiven.

Forgiveness Is Not Easy

It’s just not. It takes time. If the wound is deep, it may take a long time. That one year of post-divorce counseling felt like a lifetime. But focusing our energy and time on moving toward forgiveness means embracing our future free from the bondage of vengeful toxins.

We can confidently count on God’s outrageous faithfulness to us. Yesterday is over. Your future lies ahead. God provides peace of mind right alongside our fresh start. Relentlessly lay those hurts at His feet and trust Him to remove the sting.

What’s the Takeaway?

I learned so much about forgiveness from the Lord, life experience, and counseling that I wrote an entire book on forgiveness. You can find that Bible study here.

God’s Word transforms us, so here is 31-Day Bible Reading Plan about forgiveness that you can download free right now and get started today.

Forgiveness is not “giving in.” Forgiveness is a gift from God that He is waiting for you to open. In that promised land are freedom and new life. For you. 

Related Posts:

About the Author
Donna is a sought-after author, speaker, and Bible teacher. Her path from being unchurched to becoming passionate about sharing Jesus was not easy. Read her God-breathed journey: “From Unchurched to Becoming a Multi-Published Author and Sought-After Speaker.” If you want to send Donna a quick message, then visit her here.

{Some of these links are affiliate links. This means if you make a purchase through that link, the ministry may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!}