The Exercise of Repentance
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer.[b]
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
-Psalm 51:1-5 NIV
Repentance and the reception of God’s forgiveness, far from a set of emotions or feelings about oneself, is a definite act, a healing transaction between man and God. The need for this act, no matter in what stage of the spiritual journey one finds himself, never lessens. The seasoned saint, no less than the initiate, needs this frequent exercise. Furthermore, this exercise should form a pattern woven into the ongoing spiritual life. This pattern is necessary because, though there may be no conscious awareness of sin, there is always that within us which the Christ-life would heal and forgive. 
The season of Lent is a gift to us, a rich inheritance from the saints who have gone before us. There is much wisdom in dedicating forty days of each year to a deeper time of repentance. It is only when we choose to pause and invite God’s merciful searchlight that we will be taken higher up and deeper in to His life. Our fasting from the distractions of this world, and for an increased attentiveness to Jesus is always fruitful. Let us renew ourselves by the blessing of the Lenten fast, believing that God will satisfy us beyond our wildest imaginings as we persevere with Him.
Gracious Father, we thank you for the possibility of repentance that you continually hold open for each one of us. We thank you for the eternal reality of the exchange You make with us through the cross of Christ – our sin, our death, our shame for Your life, Your love, Your glory. Holy Spirit come, and impart Your divine energy to us that we might be revived in our fasting, in our attentiveness to Your presence, and in healing dialog with our Father. Give us all we need to kneel humbly and fully receive the forgiveness You give, that we might rise with You and stand as image-bearers clothed in Your righteousness.
 Leanne Payne, Real Presence (Grand Rapids, Hamewith Books, 1995), 70.
Painting: Rembrandt, 1668, The Return of the Prodigal Son [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Meditation prepared by Sarah Colyn, drawing on the writings and ministry of Leanne Payne.