I need to repent of my repentance

There are two pages in my copy of The Valley of Vision are that are becoming tattered and worn.  The pages that list the prayer of Continual Repentance are those pages.

Take a moment to read through this prayer of repentance:

“O God of Grace,
Thou hast imputed my sin to my substitute,
and hast imputed his righteousness
to my soul,
clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe,
decking me with jewels of holiness.
But in my Christian walk I am still in rags;
my best prayers are stained with sin;
my penitential tears are so many impurity;
my confessions of wrong are so many
aggravations of sin;
my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with
I need to repent of my repentance;
I need my tears to be washes;
I have no robe to bring to cover my sins,
no loom to weave my own righteousness;
I am always standing clothed in filthy garments,
and by grace am always receiving change of
for thou dost always justify the ungodly;
I am always going into the far country,
and always returning home as a prodigal,
always saying, Father, forgive me,
and thou art always bringing forth
the best robe.
Every morning let me wear it,
every evening return in it,
go out to the day’s work in it,
be married in it,
be wound in death in it,
stand before the great white throne in it,
enter heaven in it shining as the sun.
Grant me never to lose sight of
the exceeding sinfulness of sin,
the exceeding righteousness of salvation,
the exceeding glory of Christ,
the exceeding beauty of holiness,
the exceeding wonder of grace.”

If you are a weekly reader of this blog, you have seen this prayer before.  It is one of my “go to” prayers in The Valley of Vision.

There is much I can write about this prayer.  The one thing line that consumes my attention more than any other is the first line of the second paragraph:


Ouch!  For anyone who has wrestled with repentance, who has struggled with the vulnerability true biblical repentance produces, you know what the author is stating.  There are times our repentance can be contrived.  There are times when our repentance is not sincere.  Repenting of our repentance may just be the starting point to true repentance.

Let’s not forget what the Bible says about the people of Nineveh.  The king of Assyria issued this decree: “Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.  Who knows?  God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”  That is true repentance.

Perhaps before we spend any more time discussing repentance, it would benefit us to repent of our repentance.

Whose idea was this, anyway?


4 Responses to “I need to repent of my repentance”

  1. August 26, 2008 at 9:03 am

    This post reminded me of what a Puritan preacher once said: “Even our tears of repentance need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb.”

    I definitely need to “chew” on this idea of repenting of my repentance. Thank you for the challenge…

  2. August 26, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    I love the truth stated in these lines…

    I am always going into the far country,
    and always returning home as a prodigal,
    always saying, Father, forgive me,
    and thou art always bringing forth
    the best robe.

    I’ve heard it said that the closer you get to God the more you realize the distance left to go. I praise the Lord that he is forever full of grace toward us. I am so thankful that “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:10)

    This of course speaks nothing of our repentance, but merely highlights God’s grace. The need for true repentance remains as long as sin remains. But, what would hinder our returning to such an amazing Father?

  3. 3 Lee
    August 26, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    “Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death. In fact, it needs a good man to repent. Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly. The only person who could do it perfectly would be a perfect person – and he would not need it. . .

    “You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but only God can do it only if He becomes a man. Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God’s dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence: but we cannot share God’s dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man.” C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, “The Perfect Penitent”

    It comes back to “God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.” It is not our coming to God in repentance that produces the result any more than our calling out to God for salvation makes us saved. Such would be legalism: making our actions responsible for the outcome. Therefore, I conclude washing our tears means examining our motives, knowing we cannot produce in ourselves what only God can no matter how much we cry. Crying out to him in confession means having faith he will work the power of repentance in us, giving confidence to our belief our sins have been forgiven and the empowerment to change our desires. The result for which God deserves credit is the changing of our desires that enables us to turn from our wicked ways and bear fruit; the result of repentance.

  4. 4 Searching
    August 27, 2008 at 5:26 am

    Wow, what a direct hit!! I agree with you that so many appear to take for granted the grace and mercy and forgiveness of God Almighty and one wonders if some ever come to a point of true contrition and actually fall in sincere repentance before God. The deeper we “know” God our Heavenly Father the clearer we see our own sin. Repent of our repentance… what a concept!
    Thanks Ryan!

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