The Correct Process for Repentance And The Strategy for Success for Latter-day Saints

The Correct Process for Repentance And The Strategy for Success for Latter-day Saints


Repentance and “becoming” is more successful when approached as a process-oriented effort rather than an outcome-oriented achievement. A vital ingredient to our process-oriented repentance is to make sure we are using the correct process and the correct tools to affect our repentance.


For example, it is easy to drive a nail into a piece of wood with a hammer, but it is very difficult to do it with a bar of soap. The mechanical actions may be the same, but the tool makes the difference.

The general steps of repentance have been explained many times:


1) recognizing sin

2) feeling remorse for sin

3) confessing

4) making restitution for sin

5) asking to be forgiven.


Just saying you are sorry about something is not complete repentance. Walking into a booth to confess a sin is not complete repentance. Returning a stolen item is not complete repentance. Those are the mechanical actions. Even though they are vital in the process, how we accomplish those mechanical actions is the nuance that validates our motivation and practice. Going through the repentance process cannot be a trivial matter. We must reason and resolve, over and over again, that the painful process is worth the journey.

The following are some of the tools needed that will legitimize our efforts with the mechanical actions of repentance.



We must have a hope and trust that the Atonement completed by Jesus Christ is real. As we have seen in previous chapters, without that hope, any behavior modification is merely a temporal change based on our mortal experience.

We must approach and maintain our repentance efforts “with full purpose of heart” (2 Nephi 31:13).

We must follow a repeatable pattern of sincere prayer, scripture study, and feasting on sacred things so we are open to spiritual instruction. The Holy Ghost speaks through the scriptures to the prepared mind and heart. God does not come uninvited. It is best we come to know and hear Him now instead of later hearing Christ speak the woeful words, “Ye never knew me” (JST, Matthew 7:33).


As we know in the mortal world, using the proper tools to fix or build anything makes the job easier and successful. Using the proper tools and procedures in our repentance journey, though difficult and painful, will make our repentance possible and acceptable to God.


Elder Michael A. Dunn suggests a strategy to help our becoming and repentance by making many small yet consistent changes in our mortal refinement. Instead of trying to become tremendously better at one thing, or myopically focusing on one major weakness until it is completely subdued, we may find more success at trying to improve many of our weak character traits in small but significant steps.


If we have neglected studying scripture, instead of trying to plow through a complete book, we may have more meaningful success if we consistently read only one verse every day until the habit forms and grows. If we have neglected our prayers, we may have more meaningful success if we consistently kneel at our bedside every evening and simply yet meaningfully say good night to God until the habit forms and grows. If we choose a variety of our personal weaknesses and attempt to make marginal, maybe one percent improvements on many of them, “[we] will get a significant increase when [we] put them all together. Every effort to change we make—no matter how tiny it seems to us— just might make the biggest difference in our lives.”


We came into mortality to become more than what our premortal existence could offer. Being born into mortality was a graduation from remedial classes to a higher level of learning. We weren’t born into a messed-up world. Our mortal situation was not caused by a sinful error of Adam and Eve. On the contrary, the more complete story of Adam and Eve teaches that our mortal probation and schooling came about because of their intentional choice. Thus, we are in a state of becoming something based on how we use our agency.


Without this mortal path and the potential of reaching exaltation through the redemption of Jesus Christ, all of creation would be a waste. But it is not a waste. Our repentance is our becoming and what we become depends on our repentance.

The following was taken from the book Repentance : Refinement Through the Mortal Journey by Alan Ruppe, currently available at