Sorrowing unto Repentance

Sorrow? Repentance? What do they have to do with faith?

Give to this wretched convicted sinner the grace of compunction of heart, and earnest repentance, that I may weep bitterly for every outrage, every contempt, and every provocation, that I have offered to the King of heaven and earth.

  - Litany of the Saviour, Irish, 14th century[1]

Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

  - Psalm 126.5, 6

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance.

  - 2 Corinthians 7.9

Grieving and weeping for sin are necessary preconditions for revival, whether in our individual hearts, our churches, or our generation.

We don’t like to think of ourselves as sinners, except as forgiven sinners. Repentance is not something we talk about much or practice with any consistency.

But revival begins in confessing our sins and repenting of them. Where true, widespread, sincere, and continuous repentance is practiced, revival will not be far away.

Paul was willing for the Corinthians to be brought to such a condition, for their sin had greatly offended against the dignity and honor of God, and he was determined to make sure they knew it. Indeed, he rejoiced at their weeping, for it indicated to him that they understood the severity of their offense and truly wished to make things right with God.

Grieving and weeping for sin are not much in fashion today. We want a faith that gives us comfort, not distress; affirmation, not judgment; peace, not turmoil. We seek a “feel good” faith, not one that leaves us sorrowing.

But the road of sanctification wends through many dark nights of the soul, for we remain wretched sinners in spite of our having been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.

And there will be no revival in this country or anywhere else until we grieve for our sins and seek repentance from the Lord.

Revival is the great need of our day. We need a fresh upwelling of the Spirit of God, filling, transforming, and leading us to reach out to our generation with greater consistency and boldness. Revival leads to renewal and mission, and mission can lead to awakening, in which large numbers of the unconverted recognize their need for Christ and come willingly to Him.

But there will be no revival, no renewing of our mission, and no awakening until the followers of Christ first recognize the outrages, contempt, and provocations we are guilty of before the King of heaven and earth. We have forsaken ancient paths, compromised with worldly ways, turned our backs on God’s Law, neglected our witness for Christ, and embraced a gospel of forgiveness and peace rather than the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Yet for all this, we apparently see no reason for grieving and weeping before the Lord.

Only the Spirit can bring us to see and turn away from our sins. Pray that the Spirit of God, the Spirit of deep conviction (Jn. 16.8-11), will penetrate the hardness of our hearts and enable us to see how great our offenses are against Him, Who shed His blood that we might be free, pure, holy, righteous, and good.

Pray for sorrow unto repentance to settle on the people of God, that we may know revival in our day.

Psalm 80.4-7 (St. Theodulph: All Glory, Laud, and Honor)
How long will You ignore all Your people’s fervent prayer?
Shall bitter tears fall ever? O Lord, renew Your care!
Our neighbors mock and scorn us, they laugh at our distress;
Renew, O Lord, and turn us, look down on us and bless!

Show me my sins, Lord, and lead me to repentance, so that today I can…

Praying for revival

Are you praying regularly for revival? Are you meeting with others to seek the mercy of the Lord for revival? We want to encourage you to bring prayer for revival into your personal prayers and your various Christian groups. And we also want you to consider starting a prayer group focused exclusively on seeking the Lord for revival.

To these ends, our book Restore Us! can tell you why we need revival, and how to begin praying for it daily in your own prayers. It will also guide you in putting together a revival prayer group of your own, and provides prayer guides, based on the psalms, to lead you during that time. Order your copy of Restore Us! by clicking here.

Please prayerfully consider becoming a supporter of The Fellowship of Ailbe. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore, Principal
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Plummer, Litanies, p. 23.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore