Cleansing Prayer

This year, we began a series intended to help us develop our praying habits with an emphasis on the ACTS method of prayer in this article. We continue to stress that there is no requirement for any set formula for prayer, but the method referred to by the acronym can be useful. The elements of prayer represented by the ACTS method are adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication.

National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, let’s take a quick look at confession. This is the hardest part of prayer for some people. Most people do not want to admit that they have been wrong. Most of us like to think that we pretty much have it “all together.” And after all, most of try pretty hard to do the right thing most of the time. Except when we don’t. The problem sometimes comes in recognizing and admitting those times when we have been off the mark.

But everyone has sin in their lives, and none are any worse – or better – than any others. It is true for the preacher, the elders of the church, and even for the sweet old lady who loves everyone and never misses a service. Paul said in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 1 John 1:8 says that “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

But because of the price Jesus paid for us, we have the grace of God, and can have His forgiveness for any sin in our lives. 1 John 1:9 says “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What an awesome gift we have been given by our Lord! There is nothing that God will not forgive us for simply be asking in prayer!

Finding the right words to confess to God is easy if we study the scriptures daily, and speak from the heart. Here is a short example of doing so by borrowing from David’s earnest prayer to God for his sins in Psalm 51:1,and 10. We will leave you with that.

Holy Father,
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
In your Son’s name I pray this humble prayer. Amen.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Understanding the Cross of Christ – Part 2 (What is Sin?)

This series began in Part One as a search for a more meaningful answer to an aspiring young Christian’s question: “Why did God send His only son to die?”  The short answer “to save us from our sins,” while correct, really only serves to raise more questions.  Whether the question comes from a young person or someone older, I should be able to do better.  Hopefully I will be more prepared to answer that question by the end of this series.

A real understanding of the answer to this question naturally begins with understanding some things about sin.  So as we turn to that subject, the first set of questions we brought up in part one center around just what the problem is with sin.

What is sin anyway?

English: Man's Sin, and God's Promise; as in G...

English: Man’s Sin, and God’s Promise; as in Genesis 3:1-6, 13-15; illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Simply put, sin is that which is contrary to God’s will, His commandments, even that which is against His very nature.  Sin came into the world in what we know as “the fall” way back in Genesis 3.  At that time, man had a practical paradise on earth, as well the blessing of being really close to God.  But despite clear warning, he threw it all away in rebellion against the Lord, and nothing has been the same since that time.  God’s first reference to sin as a word in the scripture appears in Genesis 4, when Cain had become angry.  God had warned him that sin was “crouching at his door,” after which he in fact murdered his own brother.  Since that time, many specific acts that are sinful have been named in the Bible.  Some of those are named by Paul as “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5:19-20.  The fact that this is not a complete list of all sins is obvious, and made clear by the words “and things like these” at the end of the passage.

We know that those things in Paul’s letter to the Galatians are wrong.  We even know that such things as lying and murder are wrong.  But if there is no clearly exhaustive list of sins in the Bible to which we can refer, how should one know what else may be sinful?   The answer is by studying God’s word – the Scriptures.  The more we learn by reading and hearing God’s word, the more we know about what is right, what is wrong, and what is abhorrent to God (Proverbs 6:16-19, for example).   But we usually have to look no further than our own hearts.  God gave us a conscience; and if we truly examine ourselves with honesty, our internal conflict will betray our true knowledge of what God really expects from us (Romans 2:14-16).

English: The Story of Cain and Abel; as in Gen...

English: The Story of Cain and Abel; as in Genesis 4:3-15; illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So why does sin matter so much to God?

God has revealed Himself in many ways to us.  One of those of those ways is by His word. One could write a dissertation on that very subject, but we should know that the Bible declares (among other things) that God is the very definition of goodness and faithfulness, and that He has enduring and steadfast love (Psalm 100:5) – indeed that He is love (1 John 4:8)!  And from His word, we know that He is truth and holiness (Leviticus 19:2) – that He is light, and in Him is no darkness (1 John 1:5).  There is no evil in His character, and He is too pure to tolerate sin or evil (Habakkuk 1:13).

Why should sin matter to us?

We will have more to say about this in Part Three of this series.  But sin is important to us first and foremost because it separates us from God.  That separation is absolutely the worst thing that has ever happened to mankind.  It separated man from God after “the fall” of Genesis 3, and God has been at work to restore that relationship with Him ever since then.  The good news is that He has a plan to do just that very thing; and that hope for us has always pointed to the Cross.

On a Sunday within the next few short weeks, we will present part three of this series with a look at God’s response to sin. as we begin to examine His plan for our salvation and hope for being with Him forever.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.