Lesson Three: Supplication
A s k i n g F o r F o r g i v e n e s s
Memory Verse: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” —Psalm 51:1-2
If confession and lamentation have led us anywhere, it must be to the cross. If we do not take this raw wound, freshly cleaned and exposed, and then bind it, it will again fester and rot. It is not enough to confess. It is not enough to have sorrow. We must then believe that there is forgiveness! We must apply the eternal salve of Jesus’ salvation to our wounds of sin if we have any chance of recovery.
There are many places in Scripture where we can find evidence of God’s disposition toward sinners who confess sin, grieve sin and then run to him. But few are as powerful as the image of the Father running to his wayward son in Luke 15.
11There was a man who had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.” ’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
What prompted the younger son to seek his father’s forgiveness?
How did the son ask for forgiveness? What was the disposition of his heart?
What kind of response was the younger son expecting from his father? What response did he receive?
Describe the father’s reaction to his son’s return. Is this what you would expect to receive? How would you have responded?
This passage of Scripture is profound enough to sit in for days, weeks, months, years. Do you believe that this is the kind of reception you receive from our Heavenly Father when you run to him, humbly and eagerly asking for forgiveness? Do you believe that he runs to you? Close your eyes for a moment. Picture the Father coming toward you, running. Feel the grass under your feet as you run to him. Feel your breath quicken as you pick up speed. Feel the desperation to reach him. Feel the relief of knowing that he is the one who has come toward you first. Now, feel his embrace. Stay there for a moment. Stay there until you believe it’s true.
As a child of God, did you know that when the Father looks at you, he sees the righteousness of Jesus and not your sin? (Col. 3:3-4) Forgiveness for the Christian is as simple as turning to the cross and believing that it’s true. It is when we turn away from the majesty of Jesus and the forgiveness he’s purchased for us on the cross that we forget this forgiveness... and turn to sin instead.
As we’ll detail in the next lesson, forgiveness enables us to turn away from our sin and to the Father who loves us—and keep doing it again and again.
To close this lesson, engage in this action step:
- Find a quiet place, away from people, where you can be alone. Get down on your knees, close your eyes—yes, literally—and ask God for forgiveness from your sins. Open your hands—again, literally—and picture that you are receiving it. Believe that you have received it. After the experience, record your thoughts in a journal.