How should we ask God for forgiveness?

(iStock)

March 9 / Saturday after Ash Wednesday

Advertisement

Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am devoted to you; save your servant who trusts in you.You are my God; Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all day long. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my cry of supplication.~Ps 86:1-6

An important element of maturing to full adulthood is learning how to advocate for ourselves. Sooner or later, we are going to have to lay out our merits or defend our position or advance our cause through solid and persuasive argumentation and assertiveness. While self-advocacy is both necessary and salutary in our day-to-day comings and goings, it is unnecessary in our relationship with God. And yet we all do it, praying to God that he fulfill our specific requests because we’ve been especially charitable this week, or have a profound need, or because we’re deeply unhappy and require relief. And in order to persuade God, we lay out the case for support almost as if we were litigators — just as the psalmist does in these stately and lyrical verses from Psalm 86. Methodically he proceeds: six consecutive pleas, six reasons why. “Answer me, preserve me, be gracious to me, listen to me, O God — because I am needy, because I am devoted to you, because I cry all the day long, because I lift my soul up to you.” So, too, do we present our exhibits to God: our needs, hardships and trials; our merits, virtues and devotion. But the truth about God’s mercy is this: It is a divine gift, not a human attainment. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, the psalmist acknowledges, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you. Ultimately, whatever the strength of the case we plead, forgiveness is the gracious gift of the God who loved us into being and desires only our good.

Gracious and generous God, may it be your will to bestow your overflowing mercy and loving forgiveness upon me, poor as I am.Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

[Editors’ note: This is part of a daily Lenten reflection series. Sign up for our America Today newsletter to receive each reflection every day in your inbox.]

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Phillip Stone
2 weeks ago

Always about self, self, self ...
The Lord's Prayer says it all with no need of embellishment.

Forgive US ... as we forgive THEM ...
Keep your OWN sin in mind when asking to be let off the consequence and the anger and contempt you have in your heart against those who sinned against you may not seem quite so justified.

The author may be a Biblical scholar, whatever that is, but I'm sure there are at least two versions of the above in the New Testament of my Bibles.
It smacks more of humanistic psychology simply taken for granted.
Read Paul Vitz - Psychology as Religion - The cult of self-worship.
Do Americans who read this journal really think they are poor and humble. and needy and incapable of presenting themselves? It is not obvious to us foreigners.

Arun karan
2 weeks ago

Must be thanks for the great article here it is the most amazing way to play here mah jong free online game and start the full enjoyments here.

msd msdian
2 weeks ago

AppEven is one of the greatest rhird party app store...u can download it from uisng Donwload AppEven

Advertisement
More: Lent / Prayer

The latest from america

Since retiring from my job, my husband has found me irritating. We had a talk (after fighting), and he is right: I am mothering him. Smothering him. “I have a mother,” he said. “I want a wife, a partner, a best friend.”
Valerie SchultzMarch 25, 2019
Jesus asks us to be generous with the poor. It’s one of the foundations of his public ministry: caring for the poor himself and asking his disciples to do so.
James Martin, S.J.March 25, 2019
Obedience is a way of following God and when the young Mary assented to God's plan with her "Yes" at the Annunciation, she gave us an example to follow: her obedience came from trust. Can we do the same with our faith?
Even in our relationships with family and friends, forgiveness can be hard to come by.