I Could Never Stop Asking God for Forgiveness
When I was a kid, I probably went to the altar at church to receive salvation over 20 times. My brother and I used to travel with my grandmother and aunt for their puppet ministry, so I had a lot of opportunities! I knew that I had already accepted Christ, but I had messed up since then, and wanted a fresh start. I just couldn’t stop asking God for forgiveness.
In the recording studio with “April and Her Joyful Puppets”. I’m the cool race car driver in the front.
I’m not much better as an adult, thanks to my tendency to strive for perfection. I pray for forgiveness at least 5 times every single day.
I apologize for being short with my husband and daughter, for missing my devotional time…again, to cover “bad” things I’m sure I’ve done but just don’t realize, and more. I don’t physically raise my hand or walk to the altar during every call to salvation anymore, but I do in my mind.
It’s almost as if I treat my faith like a diet. I start fresh on a Monday morning, then I mess up a little in the afternoon and figure I’ve already blown my diet, I’ll take the rest of the day off and just start fresh again tomorrow. Then I figure I should get my cravings out of the way today, and eat an entire carton of grocery store brownie bites.
Why We Must Stop Asking God for Forgiveness
The problem is that I never get anywhere with that approach. I may lose a few pounds here and there, but I pretty immediately gain them back. I may grow closer to God for a moment, but I lose sight of Him again just as quickly as I march myself back to square one.
The problem is that perfection is not possible. So if I start over every time I’m not perfect, I’m destined to be starting over for the rest of my life. And a faith that never moves past the starting line is not a very fulfilling faith. Hebrews 5.11-14 (MSG) says:
I have a lot more to say about this, but it is hard to get it across to you since you’ve picked up this bad habit of not listening. By this time you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet here I find you need someone to sit down with you and go over the basics on God again, starting from square one—baby’s milk, when you should have been on solid food long ago! Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.
How to Stop Asking God For Forgiveness
So how can we move beyond the starting line? How can we stop starting over every few days? Or even several times a day? These are the practical actions that are working for me:
- First, make your faith a habit. The importance of spending time daily in God’s word and prayer cannot be overstated. Daily Bible devotional time builds our faith and our understanding of God. It opens our hearts to God so that He can begin the work of making us more like Jesus. And the more like Jesus we are, the more we can understand and accept the truth of grace over perfection.
- Second, bring your concerns to God. God already knows that you’re stuck at the starting line, but we should still lift it to Him in prayer. Ask Him to remind you of His truths the next time you ask for a fresh start. What is it they say? Acknowledging that you have a problem is the first step toward recovery? The more you’re aware of an issue, the more it’s at the forefront of your mind, the more drive you can harness to start working toward healing.
- Third, when you start asking for another fresh start, pray this instead: “God, I thank you that when I’m walking with you, you forgive me before I can even ask. I thank you for your mercy and your grace. Please show me how I can grow deeper with you. Please expose those areas of my life where I need to become more like Jesus, and begin to soften and change my heart. I am open to whatever plans you have for me.” Praying this will help to shift your focus from forgiveness to the future, the next step.
- Finally, start your day with a mantra. This sounds a little un-Christian. But the truth is that as you repeat the same things to yourself over and over, your brain begins to form new neural pathways, and those thoughts will begin to become second nature to you. You can read more about the science (which can also be used to combat your last cheat meal) here. Write down a few truths that will help you to keep moving forward. I am already forgiven. I’m in the middle of a race, and only moving forward, not starting over. I will never be perfect, but I’ll give God my best every day. I will seek out and focus my efforts on whatever God has next for me. Post whatever truths you need to hear somewhere that you will see them often, and repeat them out loud every time you see them.
Wrap It Up
God never intended for us to hang out at the starting line of our faith. We have to stop asking God for forgiveness. We must make daily time in God’s word and prayer a habit, bring our concerns to God, refocus our prayers, and start our days speaking truth. Billy Graham encouraged believers, “Quit beating yourself up. We all live under grace and do the best we can.”
But what about those of us that want our walk with God to be perfect, and are frustrated with our shortcomings? In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about a handicap that he had, a weakness. He said that he begged God three times to remove his handicap until God answered:
My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. (2 Corinthians 12.9, MSG)
Our shortcomings open the door for God’s perfection to enter. If you still insist on perfection, insist on God’s perfection. Leave the starting line, keep moving forward even when it gets messy (and it will!), and trust that in your weakness, God’s strength will be revealed. Stop asking God for forgiveness. Stop looking for “fresh starts” and step into a growing and fulfilling faith.
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