The Prayer of Manasseh

Our tradition uses the Prayer of Manasseh in the Daily Office during Lent.  It’s found in a portion of the Apocrypha not included in most bibles and was probably written in the first century BCE.  You may recall that Manasseh was, perhaps, the most corrupt king of Judah, a truly rotten person in every respect.  Nevertheless, it is said that he repented toward the end of his life.  Using him as the worst example the writer could think of, this prayer endeavors to guide each of us toward confession and repentance in the full faith of God’s abounding love and capacity for forgiveness that makes no sense to our sense of justice.  What follows is the shortened Prayer Book version of the prayer, the full version of which can be found in the Apocrypha usually after 1 Esdras.
O Lord and Ruler of the hosts of heaven, *
God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
and of all their righteous offspring:
You made the heavens and the earth, *
with all their vast array.
All things quake with fear at your presence; *
they tremble because of your power.
But your merciful promise is beyond all measure; *
it surpasses all that our minds can fathom.
O Lord, you are full of compassion, *
long-suffering, and abounding in mercy.
You hold back your hand; *
you do not punish as we deserve.
In your great goodness, Lord,
you have promised forgiveness to sinners, *
that they may repent of their sin and be saved.
And now, O Lord, I bend the knee of my heart, *
and make my appeal, sure of your gracious goodness.
I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, *
and I know my wickedness only too well.
Therefore I make this prayer to you: *
Forgive me, Lord, forgive me.
Do not let me perish in my sin, *
nor condemn me to the depths of the earth.
For you, O Lord, are the God of those who repent, *
and in me you will show forth your goodness.
Unworthy as I am, you will save me,
in accordance with your great mercy, *
and I will praise you without ceasing all the days of my life.
For all the powers of heaven sing your praises, *
and yours is the glory to ages of ages. Amen.

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