A few years back, I was in search of a lenten prayer that would enrich my lenient journey. That’s when I discovered Psalm 51, a powerful lenten prayer. As I was listening to the radio one day, the host of the morning show on the Catholic Channel, Gus Lloyd, who happens to be a friend of mine, was talking about Psalm 51, and how it transformed his lent, some years ago. As I listened to Gus it became quite apparent how convicted he was about the power contained in this Psalm.
You may be familiar with this psalm. It was written by King David and he really pours out his heart to God. David was in dire straights as he had some heavy sins on his head. He had an affair with Bathsheba, his general’s wife, got her pregnant and tried to cover it up by having the general killed. Imagine trying to cover up a sin like that with another sin like murder.
We later learn that David has a contrite heart and repents after some prodding from the prophet Nathan and pens Psalm 51. It’s a beautiful psalm and everyday reading for me each lenten season. I agree with Gus and encourage you to read it as well. It does have a powerful effect and promises to bear much fruit, this lent and every lent.
Have mercy on me, God,
in your goodness;
in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.
Wash away all my guilt;
from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my offense;
my sin is always before me.
Against you alone have I sinned;
I have done such evil in your sight
That you are just in your sentence,
blameless when you condemn.
True, I was born guilty,
a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.
Still, you insist on sincerity of heart;
in my inmost being teach me wisdom.
Cleanse me with hyssop,
that I may be pure;
wash me, make me whiter than snow.
Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my guilt.
A clean heart create for me, God;
renew in me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from your presence,
nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation;
sustain in me a willing spirit.
I will teach the wicked your ways,
that sinners may return to you.
Rescue me from death,
God, my saving God,
that my tongue may praise your healing power.
Lord, open my lips;
my mouth will proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice;
a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit;
God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.
Make Zion prosper in your good pleasure;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with proper sacrifice,
burnt offerings and holocausts;
then bullocks will be offered on your altar.