I just wanted to share this prayer by St. Simeon Metaphrastes of the 10th century. I try to pray it on the night before I receive Holy Communion and it never fails to touch me in some way by saying what it is I feel but don’t have the words for myself.
As though I stood at your dread judgment-seat that has no respect of persons, O Christ my God, awaiting judgment, and rendering an account of the evils committed by me: even so today before the appearing of the day of my condemnation, I stand before your holy altar in your sight and in the sight of your dread and holy Angels, and, bowed down by my own conscience I offer up my wicked and lawless acts, triumphing over them and publishing them.
Behold, O Lord, my misery, and remit, O Father, my sins. Behold, my iniquities have increased above the number of the hairs of my head. For what wickedness have I not done, what sin have I not committed, what evil have I not imagined in my soul? Already in my works I have practiced fornication, adultery, arrogance, imposture, railing, blasphemy, foolish talking, drunkenness, gluttony, greediness, hate, envy, avarice, cupidity, graspingness, self-love, self-vaunting, robbery, injustice, covetousness, jealousy, slander, lawlessness; all my perception and every member have I polluted, corrupted, and disabled, and am become wholly the workshop of the devil.
And I know, O Lord, that my iniquities have gone over my head: but immeasurable is the multitude of your loving-kindness, and the mercy of your goodness and forbearance beyond telling; and there is no sin that conquers your love toward all men. Wherefore, O King all-marvelous, forbearing Lord, cause the wonder of your mercy to lighten even upon me, a sinner; show the power of your excellence, manifest the strength of your kindly condescension, and, as I return to you, receive me, the sinner, receive me, as you did receive the Prodigal, the Thief, and the Harlot.
Receive me who have sinned against you exceedingly in word and in deed, in foolish desire, and in thought without reason. And as you did receive those that came at the eleventh hour and had done nothing worthy, so also receive me, a sinner. Much have I transgressed, and offended, and grieved your Holy Spirit, and provoked your loving-kindness toward all men, in deed and word, and thought, by night and by day, openly and secretly, wittingly or unwittingly: and I know that you will set these my sins, which have been committed by me, before me, and require an account from me of the sins which I have knowingly and unpardonably committed: but, O Lord, convict me not with exact judgment, neither chastise me in your anger: have mercy upon me, O Lord, for not only am I weak, but also I am the work of your hands.
You, O Lord, have laid your fear upon me, but I have wrought evil in your sight. Against you only have I sinned, but I ask of you, enter not into judgment with your servant, for if you, O Lord, will be extreme to mark iniquity, who shall abide it? For I am a sea of sin, and I am not worthy, neither sufficient, to behold and to gaze upon the height of heaven, for the multitude of my sins, of which there is no number. For every work or evil, and every guile, and craft of Satan, corruption, instability, effeminacy, seduction, remembrance of wrong, counsel toward sin, forced laughter, and a thousand other passions beside have I not put aside from me.
For with what sins have I not been corrupted? In what evils have I not been occupied? Every sin have I practiced, every prodigality have I set before my soul, I have become unprofitable both to you, O my God, and to men: who will raise me up who am fallen into such evils and such transgressions?
Upon you, O Lord, have I hoped; O my God, if I have hope of salvation, if your love toward all men conquers the multitude of my lawlessnesses, by my Savior; and according to your loving-kindnesses and your mercies, remove, remit, and pardon all things wherein I have sinned; for my soul is filled with many evils, an in me there is no hope of salvation; Have mercy upon me, O God, after your great mercy, and requite me not according to my deeds; but convert, uphold, and deliver my soul from the evils implanted in it, and from the dread projects. Save me for your mercy’s sake, that where sin filled full measure, your grace may also abound; and I will praise and glorify you all the days of my life.
For you are God of those that repent, and you we ascribe glory, with your Eternal Father, and with your all-holy, and gracious, and life-giving Sprit, now, and forever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.