Ask the early Christians where prayer begins, and they will almost always say, “in repentance.” Bunge turns to this on page 99.
This emphasis is related to the post a couple of weeks ago where we noted that the first movement of prayer is the disposition of our hearts—which “removes the blockages” so that the grace of God can flow into our lives.
Repentance is the spirit which accompanies God’s “heart cathaterization.” The Holy Spirit moves through our spiritual “cardio-vascular” system, cleaning up and clearing out the build-up of sin. Repentance is the spirit of prayer which not only laments the need for such cleansing, but also expresses the “change of mind” (metanoia) which says, “I’m going to live differently, so that this clog doesn’t reappear.”
This is what the psalmist was praying for in 139:24, when he wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Bunge rightly calls this “the first stage of the spiritual life” (p. 99), because our spiritual arteries and veins must first be opened in order for the vitalizing “blood flow” to take place.