This is another good question, and I am not sure I can give a good or complete answer.
But it seems to me that there are certain things which underly our repentance, things which provide the context in which we repent. Using the prayers from the British Orthodox Church I noted even today a few passages that are relevant.
Firstly, from the Concluding Prayer of every Hour
Quote:Christ our God, the good, the long suffering, the abundant in mercy, and the great in compassion, who loves the righteous and has mercy on the sinners of whom I am chief; who does not wish the death of the sinner but rather that he returns and lives, who calls all to salvation for the promise of the blessings to come.
I am glad that we pray this prayer every time we use the written prayers of the Church. We are reminded that Christ is on our side
. We don't have to convince Him to love us or forgive us. He wants to forgive us. He does not wish the death of the sinner
. So we should not approach God in repentance as though He were an angry tyrant. He is filled with love already, indeed he calls all to salvation
Or we can turn to Psalm 50 which we also pray everytime we turn to the prayers of the Church.
Quote:Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your great mercy; and according to the multitude of Your compassions blot out my iniquity.
We ask God to have mercy on us because He is already the one who is merciful. Of course we are aware of our iniquity, but when we come to God to ask Him to deal with our sin we discover that he is filled with overwhelming compassion already.
In fact if we want to come right down to it we can recall John 3:16.
Quote:For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him might not die.
So when we seek to repent we do not need to fear that God is unwilling to receive our repentance.
I think that in answer to your question I would want to say that for me I do not think I repent in a sort of one-off manner. Repentance isn't so much a matter of screwing ourselves up and feeling something. Though of course I often feel ashamed, guilty and the contrite for having offended God.
But to be honest I think that in one sense words are cheap when it comes to repentance. It is easy for me to say I am sorry and ask for forgiveness, and I am sure that God grants me forgiveness in the measure I do repent. What I think true repentance really demands is a change of behaviour and of attitude. This is after all what repentance means - metanoia - to turn around.
Now if I am really determined to repent then I need to do more than be sorry for sins I have committed, I need to seek to change my life by God's grace and through the advice and prayers of spiritual fathers, so that I do not sin anymore, especially in the particular way I might be repenting for.
This often requires wisdom and therefore the support of people wiser than ourselves. We might think that the way to overcome sin is to concentrate on it almost to the exclusion of everything else and will ourselves not to fall into such a sin again. Actually, in my experience this is almost always bound to end in failure.
I have slowly learned from our daily prayers that we need grace to live the Christian life. Therefore I cannot will myself to be good, though of course my will must be engaged. Rather for myself I have learned that a more positive concentration of God tends to produce less space for temptation to take root.
I guess what I am trying to say very inadequately is that the life of repentance - of turning round to face God every day - requires a positive attitude, not a focus on the negative. One step is to work with spiritual advisers to develop a rule or routine of prayer. This is a positive thing. Likewise to seek advise about beginning some simple and achievable rule of fasting. Perhaps a simple list of things to read as well. All of these go towards building the Christian life in a positive sense.
It would be easy to become consumed in our weakness, but this is not wise. If we are sorry for our sin and seek the forgiveness of God He will give it. If we want to enter into the Christian life then we need to do so by building positively not continuing to look at ourselves.
This is true repentance as far as I understand it. Not continuing to say sorry, though we need to do that. But seeking the Holy Spirit to renew the Image of God in us.
I hope some of this helps, and that others will also add their own thoughts and correct my errors.