Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin (Ps. 51:1-2)
Heavenly Father, have mercy on me. Grant me favor according to your grace and truth. For I know I have sinned and stand guilty before you. I trust in your Son Jesus alone to blot out my transgressions. His righteousness is what makes me righteous. His goodness is what declares me good.
God, your word promises that as far as the east is from the west, so have you casted my former sins away. Wash and purify me by your Holy Spirit. Produce in me the fruit of the spirit that leads to a life of holiness and integrity. Thank you for the atonement we receive through Christ. I am confident it is sufficient to cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge (Ps. 51:3-4)
Dear Lord, help me to overcome temptation; for I know that my transgressions are before me. Sin tries to take me captive. However, I know that you protect me from the evil one. You guard my heart from allowing sin to reign in my heart. Do not let me fall away from your steadfast mercy.
In the end, the only person I have really sinned against is you. When I don’t love my neighbor, I fail to follow your righteous decrees. When I sin against my body, I sin against you; for you created me and I belong to you. When I fail to trust in your promises by faith, I have sinned. For the one who doubts is condemned (Rom. 14:23) because everything that does not come from faith is sin.
When you judge me, your verdict is right. When you pronounce me as guilty before the Law of God, this is true. But as my judge, I also know you are my defendant. I trust that you will make a way of escape for me so I don’t have to be condemned by the law and imprisoned. For you break my chains and release me from my bondage. Thank you for this undeserved pardon.
Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place (Ps. 51:5-6).
Righteous King, your word tells us that even at birth I was sinful. For I took on the sinful nature from Adam. When He disobeyed you in the Eden, his sin spread to all mankind. My sin was inherited yet I also chose to sin and therefore am liable for my own iniquities.
Yet you desired me to become faithful. You had predestined me to conform into the image of your Son so that I might be a brother in Christ (Rom. 8:29). You set me apart from others and taught me wisdom in that secret place. Your wisdom has brought me safely through the valley of sin and destruction. Thank you for guiding, mentoring, and imparting wisdom so that I remained on the narrow road that leads to life.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity (Ps. 51:7-9).
Prince of peace, cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean. Cleanse me with your holy spirit, and I will be made righteous. Wash me with the written Word of God so that I can depart from wickedness and embrace righteousness. When there are dark stains I am trying to hide, wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Glorious Creator, your grace brings joy and gladness to my soul. For when I was rescued from impending doom by your mercy, I rejoiced with exceeding joy. I trust that you will hurl my transgressions away. You will blot out my lawlessness from your remembrance. You have done this, not because I deserve it—but to demonstrate your infinite kindness.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me (Ps. 51:10-12).
Heavenly King, I long for a pure heart. I desire a heart that will produce the fruit of the spirit and be a blessing to those around me. I pray that your renewed spirit will revive my soul. I hope this new spirit within me will go forth in confidence and faith, spreading the good news to the lost that God saves sinners.
Everlasting God, restore to me the joy of your salvation. There are moments where I lose that zeal and passion for you. Remind me again of the mercy and love you have bestowed upon me. Grant me a willing spirit. A spirit that will keep me safeguarded from the enemy. A spirit that will overpower and temptation that will lead me astray from your dwelling place.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness (Ps. 51:13-14).
Gracious Father, when you teach me your ways, I will quench the possibility of transgressing your righteous decrees. When you teach me to overcome, I will be able to teach others as well. I will be able to provide them guidance and wisdom from you so that they will not turn away from your goodness. This will advance your righteous kingdom throughout the earth.
Deliver me from my guilt. The accuser of the brethren likes to remind me of my faults and sinful tendencies. However, I know that you have redeemed me from this past life. You have changed my soul and renewed my thoughts so that I might not sin against you. You are my God and Savior. My tongue and whole heart will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise (Ps. 51:15-17).
Jehovah God, you created my lips. You created my innermost being. Therefore, I will declare with my lips and innermost being your praise. For you created me. I am made in your reflection. You have created me in your image according to your likeness.
You do not need sacrifices or burnt offerings. What you want is our heart. What you desire is a broken and contrite spirit. A spirit that understands humility, grace, and repentance. A spirit that recognizes their own faults. An attitude that is quick to forgive and desires to do what is right. For when we are motivated by love, you will not despise our worship.
May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar (Ps. 51:18-19).
Almighty God, you have built a city for your name. May you prosper Zion—your holy place. Protect Jerusalem with the walls of justice and truth. May our sacrifices of praise and adoration fill the temple. For you are the great God of the universe. You alone are worthy to be praised. Amen.
Prayer commentary by Chad A. Damitz (M.Div)