And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. – Nehemiah 1:4-7
Nehemiah went through over four months of mourning for the sins of Israel. In his prayer, he recognizes God for His mighty and wonderful nature. He acknowledges that their sin was against this perfect God. He doesn’t give excuses or try to explain away their behavior. He simply says, “God, you kept your end of the bargain, we did not.” He offers no basis for the return of God’s blessing other than the fact that God keeps His covenants. And God had promised to bless Israel again if they would repent.
Repentance from sin is so much more than just a promise you will never do something again. It comes only after there is genuine mourning for the sin you have committed. This mourning for sin is not the fact that you got caught but the fact that you offended the Lord of Glory! True repentance comes only when you realize that your sin is against a Holy, Righteous, All-Powerful God, Who sent his Son to die for that sin. When we truly see how offensive we have been toward the God Who loves us, then we can feel His hand of mercy blessing us with a spirit of repentance and conversion. And when that spirit of repentance does come, we must fall on our knees once again thanking God once again; for He alone can grant the mercy and grace necessary to break our hearts.