St. John of Kronstadt: When you pray that your sins may be forgiven . . .

Icon of St. John of Kronstadt“When you pray that your sins may be forgiven, strengthen yourself always by faith, and trust in God’s mercy, Who is ever ready to forgive our sins after sincere prayer, and fear lest despair should fall on your heart — that despair which declares itself by deep despondency and forced tears. What are your sins in comparison to God’s mercy, whatever they be, if only you truly repent of them? But it often happens that when a man prays, he does not, in his heart, inwardly hope that his sins will be forgiven, counting them as though they were above God’s mercy. Therefore, he certainly will not obtain forgiveness, even should he shed fountains of involuntary tears; and with a sorrowful, straitened heart he will depart from the Gracious God: which is only what he deserves. ‘Believe that ye receive them,’ says the Lord, ‘and ye shall have them.’ Not to be sure of receiving what you ask God for, is a blasphemy against God.”

— St. John of Kronstadt