Hosea 14:2   Take words with you and return to the LORD.  Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.”

It is much easier to FEEL sorry for something we’ve done than to LOOK the person we’ve offended in the eye and SAY, “I’m sorry.”

Being sorry is only the first step; and it has little value if it is not followed up with a clear expression of our repentance and a genuine desire for forgiveness and reconciliation.  The people of Israel were good at FEELING sorry.  Hosea has been reminding them of God’s repeated love and compassion in spite of their rebellious ways, but now the time has come for them to face their Maker/Shepherd and confess their guilt honestly and squarely with words that own the sin and reflect true contrition in their hearts.

When we pray, do we use words that identify specific sins and that indicate a real desire to change our ways?  King David puts it like this: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ – and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5); and the Apostle John like this: “If we claim to be without sin (which we can imply by never being specific about particular sins by naming them), we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).

Someone once said that when he read the prayers of the Puritans he came to the conclusion that either they were much more sinful than he was, or that they held a much higher view of the holiness of God than he did, and he suspected the latter!  (I love quoting this, and if anyone could enlighten me as to who it was who said it I would be most grateful!)
– Bruce Christian