A Sinner's Prayer

A responsive reading based on Psalm 51


  • Ahead of time make 8 copies of the reading below.
  • As group members arrive, assign each of the italicized paragraphs to different


  • Ask someone to read Psalm 51.
  • You read (or have someone else read) the text below.
  • Ask your readers to follow by reading their assigned parts.
  • Close this worship by praising God for his gracious forgiveness.

Hot-tempered leaders, men of little resolve, prostitutes, and faithless friends are the main characters of the Bible. Nearly every page records their moral failures, their selfish acts of rebelliousness, their defiant nose thumbing at God. This ancient history chronicles the lives of men and women whom God loved despite their willful wanderings into sin.

Moses threw a temper tantrum because things were not going as he had planned. Samson was gifted with great strength but was weak in a woman's arms. The disciples James and John fought over who would be the most important in Jesus' kingdom. These were ordinary men and women who loved God, but failed to lived blameless.

David is another famous Biblical character. Loved by God, he had everything he could possibly want: kingdoms, riches, influence, and talent. David was passionate about God, but in a moment of weakness, his flesh ruled his heart and he committed adultery. He cheated on God.He denied his morals.He failed to be a man of integrity.

David sinned, but the beauty of his life, like the other Biblical characters, is not in his successes but in the way he handled his failures. David teaches us about repentance and moving on.

I fail. I sin. I fall. Therefore, I want to learn from this imperfect man, this one whom God favored. I want to know what a truly honest heart looks like. I want to pray like one who really loves God, and I want to live in the freedom of being forgiven.

In Psalm 51, we read David's prayer of confession after his affair. I have read it many times, and I have poured over the words that spilled from his heart. Desiring to be more like David, I even wrote my own version of his prayer.

What you will find below is my 'sinner's prayer,' penned with love for God and an earnest desire to serve him more completely.

God, you are the author of love. You give me your love when I do not deserve it. It is just like you to show me great compassion even in my sinfulness. Your love never fails to draw me back into your arms. Your heart of love erases my sin and eases the guilt that threatens to strangle me.

I look at what I have done; it is always there to mock me. My sin, my rebelliousness, and my independence stares me in the face. I know that it is my self-centeredness that has hurt you. I know that it has done so much to alienate us from one another. After all the lies and selfishness, whatever you decide to do with me will be fair.

I have walked my way, out of sync with your divine will, for so long. It is integrity you want from me now. Come, change me completely. Work in me so that I may look more like you. I am willing Lord. Clean me up.Never stop working at the stains of sin that linger. I desire to be right in your sight and to know again the joy of being made whole.

So God, forgetting all that was, please start over with me. Take all that I have been and all that I have done and use it to create something beautiful and useful. Oh Father, gift me with a willing spirit. Breathe into me your Holy Spirit so that I may know your strength so that I may not fail you again.

Lord God, I know you do not care about religious formalities or traditions that have lost their meaning. Instead, you desire a spirit broken because our relationship has been severed. Father, I put aside shallow petitions of forgiveness and thoughtless acts of ritual and offer you my broken heart.

You have made me clean again, and I will not stop talking about your amazing grace. I will sing of your love forever. Amen.

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