Praying; Forgive us
My sins! My sins!
My heart is a sin-pool; I cannot even count the swarms of sinful thoughts, words, and actions that have flowed from it.
My head and my heart are full from the load of guilt that is on my soul. My mind and body are full of sin.
My sins, they stare at me! My creditors are upon me. Every commandment takes hold of me, for more than ten thousand talents, yes, ten thousand times ten thousand.
How endless then is the sum of all my debts! If this whole world were filled up from earth to heaven with paper, and all this paper written over by mathematicians, yet, when all were added up, it would still fall inconceivably short of what I owe to the least of God’s commandments.
For my debts are infinite, and my sins are increased. They are wrongs to an infinite Majesty.
And if one who commits treason here on earth is worthy to be punished, what have I deserved—someone who has so often lifted up my hand against heaven, and have struck at the crown and dignity of the Almighty?
It would be better to have all the regiments of hell come against me than to have my sins fall upon me. Lord, I am surrounded!
The sands are many, but then they are not great. The mountains are great, but then they are not many.
But my sins are as many as the sands, and as mighty as the mountains. Their weight is greater than their number.
It would be better that the rocks and the mountains fall upon me, than that the crushing and unsupportable load of my own sins would remain.
If my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my sins laid in the balance together, they would be heavier than the sand of the sea.
O Lord, you know my mighty sins. They have brought nothing but misery. What a mess I am in! I am sold as a slave to sin, cast out of your favor, cursed in my body, and cursed in my soul. I am cursed in my name, in my relations, and in all that I have.
My soul is within a step of death.
What do I do? Where will I go? Which way will I look? Where should I flee? What place could hide me from your presence, everywhere? What could secure me from your unlimited power?
Will I linger any longer like this, the way I was? No. If I waited there as I was, I would die.
What then? Is there no help? No hope? None, unless I turn.
But is there any remedy for such woeful misery? Any mercy?
Yes! As sure as your promise is true, God, I will have pardon and mercy—if I now genuinely, and without reservation, turn by Christ to you.
So I thank you on the bended knees of my soul, O most merciful Jehovah, that your patience has waited for me. Because if I had died as I was before, I would have perished forever.
And now I adore your grace, and accept the offer of your mercy.
I renounce all my sins, and resolve by your grace to set myself against them, and to follow you in holiness and righteousness all the days of my life. Amen.
Joseph Alleine, “My Sins! My Sins!,” in Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans, ed. Robert Elmer (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2019), 197–199.