How To Prepare Our Hearts For Prayer with a Godly Sorrow of Repentance

What does the Word of God say about the need to prepare our hearts with the godly sorrow of repentance in order to understand the truth of God’s Word? How does personal sorrow prepare us to pray effectively?  Godly sorrow tills up and refines the hard soil – hardness in our hearts.  It prepares us to approach the throne of grace in prayer with renewed insight into God’s heart for troubled days.  It is a practice which praying men and women should never neglect.

JOEL 2:12-13
12 Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.”  13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm.

2 CHRONICLES 19:2-3
2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Should you help the ungodly, and love those who hate the LORD? Therefore wrath is upon you from before the LORD.  3 Nevertheless there are good things found in you, in that you have taken away the groves out of the land, and have prepared your heart to seek God.

EZRA 7:10
10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

ECCLESIASTES 7:2-4
It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.  3 Sorrow is better than laughter: for by sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.  4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

JEREMIAH 4:3
3 For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns.

HOSEA 10:12
12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and rains righteousness upon you.

2 CORINTHIANS 7:9-11 (Paul)
9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed to repentance; for you were made sorry after a godly manner, that you might receive damage by us in nothing.  10 For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death.  11 For behold the same thing, that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it worked in you, yes, what clearing of yourselves, yes, what indignation, yes, what fear, yes, what vehement desire, yes, what zeal, yes, what revenge! In all things you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

JAMES 4:8-10
8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

How Do We Get There From Here?

Godly sorrow makes the heart better (Ecclesiastes 7:3), it clears it out (2 Corinthians 7:11), and purifies it (James 4:8-9). Just as good ground was required to bring forth good fruit in the parable of the sower Matthew 13:8, Mark 4:8 and Luke 8:8, so a good soft heart is required to bring forth a good understanding of the truth of God’s word. If we study the scriptures diligently and still lack understanding, then it is almost certainly due to the condition of our spiritual heart, which may result from lack of repentance. Most of us will not have repented sincerely because we have been told that all sins are automatically forgiven when we first believe, and it is an easy mistake to make by taking verses such as (John 3:16 and Acts 13:39), without rightly dividing the scripture. Every one of us can claim forgiveness of sins by faith when we first believe in Jesus, but it is not manifested in our lives until our sins have been repented of. This includes:

  1. Praying to God for forgiveness (2 Chronicles 7:14, Psalms 32:5-6 and Acts 8:22).
    (b) Confessing our sins to God and one another (Psalms 32:5; 51:2-3, Proverbs 28:13, 1 John 1:9 and James 5:16).
    (c) Being sorry for our sin (Psalms 38:18, Ecclesiastes 7:3, 2 Corinthians 7:8-11).
    (d) Forsaking the sin (Isaiah 1:16-18, Jeremiah 36:3, Ezekiel 18:21-22 and 2 Timothy 2:19).
    (e) Destroying all association with past sin (Joshua 7:11-12; Isaiah 27:9; Acts 19:18-19).
    (f) Making restitution where possible (Exodus 22:1-7; Ezekiel 33:14-16; Luke 19:8).
    (g) Continual renewing of our heart and mind with God’s word (Joshua 1:8; Psalms 1:2; 119:11; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:10; Hebrews 8:10-12).
    (h) Obey God’s word and do good (Isaiah 1:16-18; Ezekiel 18:21-22; 33:14-16; Ephesians 4:28; James 4:17).

O, Lord, may we become a people who loves Your Word, prays effectually and confesses and repents as often as necessary. May we walk worthy of Your calling. Amen.

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