Repentance in Prayer

When was the last time you and I stopped what we were doing, reflected on the past week (day, hour, minute) and just took some time to repent of our sins? Most of the Christian world holds that repentance and faith are equal and opposite sides of the same coin. A lot of focus is placed on the faith side, as trying to increase or strengthen our faith in Christ, with little attention to sin and turning from it. In some cases the only sorrow for our sins comes when we get caught. We do little to pursue holiness in this life, and so rather attempt to wing it (Romans 13:14, 1 Cor. 10:9). Many times we only expect to have things given to us to make things easier. We cannot bring ourselves to make the personal sacrifices that would avoid and/or counter our pet sins. There is plenty of time to pray to God, begging and pleading for more strength, patience, money, work and so forth but little to no time to stop and just confess that we have wronged and offended God so many times since we last prayed. This is not a prayer for salvation but a call to acknowledge that we are not the obedient children we should be or confess to be.

More than our tithe, service or crying, God requests that we be obedient (Isaiah 1;11-31). We should be alert to this and not seek to hide when we are not, but openly confess our sins, relying that we are forgiven ultimately in Christ. This is not a smug, “sorry.” As if that the words are all that’s required in some magical way. I’ve seen this in children over the years. Kids grow up knowing when they have displeased their parents, but eventually the apology becomes remote, reflex and cold. The “sorry” button has worn out and you can tell when it’s insincere and even insulting.

When you or I have offended someone we love and care dearly about, we seek to make serious amends to heal that relationship, starting with a sincere apology. We admit that we are at fault for bringing in some destructive or harmful “thing” into the relationship. Should it be any different when we have offended God? No. All sin is a personal offense to God and grieves Him. I fear we frequently just shrug this off as no big deal, unless it threatens our well-being in this life.

Now we do not lose our salvation or standing with God, but there is usually something in the form of chastening to come (Revelations 3:19). Now God is not like our earthly parents, but you can still feel the tension of when your child hurts you and, in almost the same breath, asks you for something. We want an apology first, and some form of punishment may be due to curb the sin that spawned the sin prior to giving out any gifts. I don’t think we really believe we are ever entitled to any forms of correction, being we see correction “dished out” so improperly in our day. We simply pull an Adam, redirecting the blame somewhere else, “it was the woman you gave me,” or society, music, movies or the media that caused me to offend you (Gen 3:12). Or there is the famous, “I was just kidding.” We are experts at redirection and excuses, but pitifully and horribly bad at making a simple confession of sin. It is no wonder Jesus included repentance in His teaching the disciples how to pray, “Forgive us our sins (trespasses, debts) as we are in the process of forgiving the sins of others (Matthew 6:12).”

If we were to confess our sins on a regular basis, in a more than reflex kind of way, I wonder what the world impact would look like in our lives. Maybe we would be more forgiving of others, knowing just how often we keep going to God confessing we have wronged him again. I wonder how freeing confession would make our prayer lives, when having confessed our sins; we’d now know properly what to pray for (James 5:16). Confession really puts our prayers into perspective, knowing that I might not really deserve something big, when I have not been obedient with what I have in a smaller form (James 4:3). Maybe we would even be more inclined to pray for others, and their sins, or protection from sins, such that the honor and glory of God would be preserved by His church, His children, and not the opposite (Romans 2:24).

Maybe then we could pray for rain and actually get it.

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3 Comments

Filed under New Testament, Old Testament

3 responses to “Repentance in Prayer

  1. This ironic fact dawned on me one day last week. The Pelagian reasons that without human responsibility, then God is to be blamed for my sin; then when it comes time to face his human responsibility for his own sin, he argues that God is to be blamed for creating the circumstances in which he had the opportunity to sin in the first place.

    “The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” (Genesis 3:12-13 ESV)

    • Yes, The Pelagian thought would also contain that God provides a means of escape (faith in Christ) and that alone is gracious. They leave it to man’s power to either be swayed by bad examples and habits (not holding to a doctrine of original sin) or choose the grace of God. I find it odd because it’s like a king and servant who are at odds with each due to the disobediance of the servant. Just because the servant knows the King can be gracious says, “I choose for you to be gracious towards me,” thus somehow the King is bound and now owes it to the servant to be gracious. There is no justice in this and the servant is the real king.

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