Day 11

A Prayer for Forgiveness

from the Psalms for Prayer reading plan

Psalm 51:1-19

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Psalm 51:1-19

Self-awareness. It’s a funny thing—you either have it or you don’t. And if you don’t, it usually takes a pretty embarrassing situation to make you aware that you are not self-aware.

For instance, have you ever been in a crowded room, talking to a group of friends, telling a fantastic story, having the time of your life, when you realize everyone in the room has quieted down because your enthusiastic voice has filled the entire space, distracting everyone from their own personal conversations and—

No? Just me? Cool.

My point is this: Self-awareness can be hard to come by. And when it “comes by,” it can be… uncomfortable.

David wrote Psalm 51 after being hurled into self-awareness by the prophet Nathan. David had just slept with Bathsheba, gotten her pregnant, and ultimately, had Bathsheba’s husband killed to cover up what he’d done. And somehow, it wasn’t until Nathan confronted him that David was brought to his knees over his sin. Boom. Crippling self-awareness. This is the context for David writing in verse 3, “For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.”

Awareness of our sin in the presence of a holy God can be an unbearable weight. How could we ever measure up? It’s impossible!

That’s why I’m glad David isn’t only writing out of an awareness of himself and his own brokenness. His self-awareness is accompanied by an acute “God-awareness.” He knows the God he’s approaching. He comes before God as a man in the wrong, but with an expectation that this holy God, who eternally exists in unapproachable light and holiness, also removes sin, erases blame, and restores joy to those who love Him. He is a God who unwaveringly desires to have David in good standing with Him.

I don’t know about you, but being confronted with the awareness of my own sin can be an oppressively cruel experience. Not only am I made aware of how far away I am from the holiness of God (and that distance is light years!), I often compound that feeling by hurling insults at myself, heaping on guilt and shame. I stand before myself as judge, jury, and accuser, certain that God could never accept me or approve of me because I’m just not good enough. And I wouldn’t be wrong. I’m not good enough. I never will be. I could never meet up to the standards of the holiness of God on my own.

But here’s the good news: God knows that. And He’s made a way for those who love Him to have access to Him in order to receive His forgiveness, which He freely extends through Christ. This is the God we serve.

So when I come before God, humbly aware of my sin, I don’t have to abuse myself, bowing beneath the weight of self-hatred and defeat. I can approach Him boldly and with confidence because, just like David, I have a “God-awareness.” I know the God I come before, and He silences the accusations, dismisses the guilt, and loves me out of my shame. Not only that, but every time I approach Him in humility and expectation, He makes me more like Him.


Erin Rose lives and works in vibrant Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as Worship & Teaching Pastor at East End Fellowship.  She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and is currently enrolled as a graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Erin is a member of Urban Doxology, a ministry that is writing the soundtrack of reconciliation for the church. Her greatest joy lies in leading God’s people in authentic worship, and teaching them the truth found in God’s Word. She also enjoys eating delicious food, spending time with loved ones, and indulging in the occasional Netflix binge.

Post Comments (57)

57 thoughts on "A Prayer for Forgiveness"

  1. Sharon Ide says:

    The Lord delights in a broken and contrite heart. Praise God that when He gives us eyes to see our depravity, we are also given hope in the steadfast mercy of the same holy God. May we recognize the weight and immensity of Christ’s sacrifice on behalf of wretches.

  2. Bailey Braden says:

    One of my favorite psalms! “Restore to me the joy of your salvation” ♡

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  4. Ariana Gray says:

    Our God is so merciful. This text has me thinking about the sins I’ve committed and how God brought me through when I prayed for forgiveness and a way out. I just thank Him for continuing to give me another chance knowing that I’ll sin again and again because of the flesh and temptation of this fallen world.

  5. Alyssa Baker says:

    I don’t think about my sin much, and I should. If I did, I think I’d give myself and others more grace, “Every time I approach him in humility, he makes me more like him.” Father, I want to seek after you by confessing my sin. Create a clean spirit within me. Give me courage to come to you with my iniquities. I fall short every day, and I’m so thankful that you are my constant.

    1. Ally says:

      Yes so true! The more we realize our sin and the extent of God’s grace, the more willing we will be to show grace to others.

  6. Ashleigh Rivers says:

    “Every time I approach him in humility, he makes me more like him”. This was a great way to sum up the psalm!

  7. Maggie Kinnucan says:

    We are going through 2 Samuel right now and the story does not get easier after he sleeps with Bathsheba as many of you know. Yesterday the sermon was on forgiveness and I loved how the preacher described it, forgiveness is accepting the debt of whatever hurt you or caused you pain, it is taking on that pain and not bringing it up passively or using it against someone later. Our sin is like a spiral staircase we are constantly revisited by the wounds of our debts, as David learns throughout 2 Samuel, but the amazing thing is when that pain resurfaces and we are tempted to hurt someone who has hurt us or to make someone else pay the debt of our pain we can take that brokenness back to the Lord who gave us Jesus so that slowly there may be work done in ending the cycle of debt amassing and debt accruing that has left all us with deep, deep wounds. Praying for this community today that whatever pain you carry, whatever debt is keeping you from the fullness of Christ’s love, that you can begin to bring that sin piece by piece to the Beloved who has already paid the price for your heartache. You are not alone sisters, He is there.

    1. Jen Brewer says:

      Thank you for this good truth and encouragement, Maggie!

  8. Pabloadume says:

    Happens even more cheerfully :)

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