The real sinner’s prayer

By Cindy Koch

Dear Lord Jesus,

I know that I am a sinner. But I only can conceive of a tiny piece of my sin and failing before You. I know there is a right and a wrong that You desire, but I continually choose the wicked path. I don’t really even understand the good that You want from me. Even my best works and my most pure thoughts are soaked with evil and selfishness. My every thought, action, and deed works against Your wisdom. I can’t recall, nor will I ever know, every sin from my past that has offended You and my neighbor. I know that I am stumbling in unrighteousness even now as I say these words out loud. I know that I am a sinner, but I do not fully understand how deeply corrupted I really am.

I ask for Your forgiveness. I wonder if You could ever actually give it to me, but I will ask. If You only heard the terrible accusations that arise from my heart. If You only saw the anger and violence in my soul, You may not deem me worthy to receive Your great gift. My past has not prepared me to have such forgiveness. My future will not fit what a forgiven person may look like. I know things about myself that I myself could never forgive. I ask for Your forgiveness because You are a great and mighty God, but who am I to expect You to answer me?

I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I believe Your works of healing and miracles. I believe You walked on this earth to bring peace and light. I believe the stories that are told about You and Your gifts. But what if I don’t believe enough?

I turn from my sins, but not really all of them. I say I do, but I can’t. I think I’m getting better, and then I’m not. My righteousness before You looks like a show of lies. I’m teetering on the edge of doing the right thing and escaping into unbelief. I am told You hate sin, but I don’t always want to turn away from sin. Yet, I am terrified that You may not love me because I can’t turn away.

I invite You to come into my heart and life. Sometimes. Of course on Sunday mornings when I go to church. Other times I just don’t have time. Other times I just don’t have the energy. Inviting You to every situation will make it better, so they say, but I can’t seem to always get the door open for You. I squirrel away time to worship You in the morning or the evening, but it’s not enough, according to Your Word. I think of You while I’m doing laundry and dishes, but You need even more. I am tired of searching for You, especially when my days are dark and depressing. My invitations don’t always mean You will show up – and I realize I have no control over where You choose to be.

I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. And I am not enough. My asking, my seeking, my belief, my turning, my inviting, I will never be enough. I want to believe, and I can’t. I want to trust, but I won’t. I want to follow, but I am trapped in death.

Thanks be to Jesus that He does not need me to pray this sinner’s prayer. Jesus knows the depths of how I am a sinner, and He asked for forgiveness. He alone believed the Word of the Father is true – life everlasting for the righteous, death for the sinner. Jesus turned the wrath of God to Himself for the sins I continue to struggle in. Jesus claimed me, the sinner, into His death and resurrection. Jesus chose me, the sinner, to be a beloved child when He said, “it is finished” on the cross. Jesus restored me, the sinner, because He has already done every piece of this prayer. Help me remember that flood water that was poured on my head. Help me taste often the body and blood given and shed for me. Help me continue to hear the truth of my Savior – that You have already done it all for me.

In Your Name.