Monday, October 20, 2008

Pages from a Preacher's Prayerbook (4)

Holy troubling
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven…While I kept silence, my body wasted away. Then I acknowledged my sin to you….I said: ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’, and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:1, 3, 5
If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.

We cannot wear masks in authentic prayer. Everywhere else we can pretend - especially in pulpits. But genuinely joining in with God always leads to soul trouble. We see ourselves as we really are before God and know our need of forgiveness. Unconfessed sin damages relationship and mutes prayer. Only true sorrow allows for new starts.

God knows how easy it is for preachers to play the hypocrite. To raise the spiritual bar for others and drop it for ourselves. To make general confession and miss out specifics. To roar like lions in a pulpit and hide as mice when moral courage is needed. To seek others’ high opinions and manipulate situations to avoid pain.

Only God knows just how unholy, inadequate and dry I may be in spirit. How I find it easier to give out assurance to others in public ministry than to know God’s strength in private. About my busyness covering up my sense of spiritual inadequacy. My unwillingness to be troubled about sin. God help me to be real with you so that you can be real to me.

Prayer: Waken my heart, O Lord my God:
Trouble me with the smallness of my work.
Trouble me with the greatness of your command.
Trouble me with my unholiness and my slowness to obey.
Trouble me with time running out and every lost hour.
Trouble me with my sins and the troubles of all people.
Trouble me with the troubles of your church which are the work of people
Trouble me and make me to watch continually for your judgment.
Trouble me, O Lord, and let me keep my faith in the midst of my trouble.
Let me go forward, desiring the coming of your glory. I thank you that my work ends and your work begins. In Christ, Amen.

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