I have been thinking about all the things and ways I should be repenting. I want to know If there Is a specific way to repent or if we should give details about what we are repenting for? Like should we give specifics of our actions or just ask for forgiveness for our “Sins” that we did. I know that God knows us all and what’s in our hearts, but it is up to us to come and open up to him on our own free will.
I am getting up there in years and at times, I catch myself remembering past mistakes and wondered if I had been forgiven from such, then I remember the sacrifice the Lord had made in the Garden of Gethsemane and the infinite atonement.
I’m not sure how old you are, but, what I am about to say applies to two groups.
Group One: anyone between the ages of 8 and 108.
Group Two: anyone above 108.
If you (or anyone) have/has sincerely repented of a sin/wrong choice, leave it in the past. You have learned what the consequences are from making such choices and the pain sin brings to our soul. Notwithstanding, the Lord has established a sure way of determining if an issue needs to be addressed by the Holy Priesthood of God. He has called Judges of Israel in the form of bishops.
If you are having a hard time determining “how” to repent, bishops are a great source of truth with regards our moral standing. Now, let me emphasize that we should not go to the bishop for every little thing that we struggle with. However, if we are in doubt, by all means, make an appointment to talk with him and discuss such issues.
Now, we also need to consider the level of severity of those previous ‘sins’: anything that breaks the law of the land needs to be addressed carefully and with the appropriate counsel (both legal and ecclesiastical).
If I were to answer this in general terms, I would say that f you pray daily and consistently, and you strive to do what is right, the Holy Ghost will guide your every thought, your every step and your every deed. At the end of the day, your bed-time prayer will sum up your day’s actions and in that prayer, you can sincerely share with Heavenly Father that you’re sorry about any action that was deemed hurtful either to Him, or a “neighbor” (anyone else). So, if you do this every day, when Sunday comes, you can “summarize” that week’s journey by getting prepared to take the sacrament worthily. This is why the Savior emphasized the sacrament, and, it is an ultimate devotion of a “true Christian”.
While writing this answer, the following quote came to mind:
“We begin to notice, besides our particular sinful acts, our sinfulness; begin to be alarmed not only about what we do, but about what we are. This may sound rather difficult, so I will try to make it clear from my own case.
When I come to my evening prayers and try to reckon up the sins of the day, nine times out of ten the most obvious one is some sin against charity; I have sulked or snapped or sneered or snubbed or stormed. And the excuse that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected: I was caught off my guard, I had not time to collect myself.
Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.
The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light. Apparently the rats of resentment and vindictiveness are always there in the cellar of my soul. Now that cellar is out of reach of my conscious will. I can to some extent control my acts: I have no direct control over my temperament. And if (as I said before) what we are matters even more than what we do – if, indeed, what we do matters chiefly as evidence of what we are – then it follows that the change which I most need to undergo is a change that my own direct, voluntary efforts cannot bring about. And this applies to my good actions too.
How many of them were done for the right motive? How many for fear of public opinion, or a desire to show off? How many from a sort of obstinacy or sense of superiority which, in different circumstances, might equally have led to some very bad act? But I cannot, by direct moral effort, give myself new motives. After the first few steps in the Christian life we realize that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God. And that brings us to something which has been very misleading in my language up to now.
I have been talking as if it were we who did everything. In reality, of course, it is God who does everything. We, at most, allow it to be done to us. In a sense you might even say it is God who does the pretending. The Three-Personal God, so to speak, sees before Him in fact a self-centered, greedy, grumbling, rebellious human animal. But He says `Let us pretend that this is not a mere creature, but our Son. It is like Christ in so far as it is a Man, for He became Man. Let us pretend that it is also like Him in Spirit. Let us treat it as if it were what in fact it is not. Let us pretend in order to make the pretense into a reality.’ God looks at you as if you were a little Christ: Christ stands beside you to turn you into one. I daresay this idea of a divine make-believe sounds rather strange at first. But, is it so strange really? Is not that how the higher thing always raises the lower? A mother teaches her baby to talk by talking to it as if it understood long before it really does. We treat our dogs as if they were ‘almost human’: that is why they really become `almost human’ in the end.”
C.S. Lewis, Rats in the Cellar
I love C. S. Lewis because his remarkable life was filled with challenges and in the end, he recognized that our ultimate source of joy and salvation is within the powerful and infinite sacrifice that Jesus Christ went through.
I would like to also share a quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from a talk given as a devotional address on January 13th, 2009.
So, as a new year starts and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good (or bad) those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives…
As a way to summarize your question, it is always important to consider that repentance is an every day occurrence and it is from moment to moment. The relationship between you and the Lord is unique and only you know how the things you do, either, pleases Him or offend Him. If you strive to know Christ, you’ll grow to understand what He expects of you in a very personal and intimate way. Lastly, I would counsel you to always (or continue to) pray for answer, listen for inspiration, and follow His counsel.