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Praying Together


Sunday, March 31, 2019

Good Sunday morning and God bless you for joining us this morning. Today as we move to the next week ahead in our Lenten journey. This week we focus on "Confession."

Let us pray…

God of all the saints, God of all the sinners, hear our prayer. We would be saint like – holy, good, patient, loving.

But we end up feeling more like sinners – full of failures of morality, selfish, mean.

Perhaps You see us simply as human – as beloved, and flawed, and trying, and failing, and succeeding.

In all of this, forgive the wrong that we have done, and bless the good we have accomplished.

Keep on loving us, and helping us, and molding us more and more into the image of Christ, the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Reading from Romans 7:7-25, “(7) What shall we say, then? Is the law sinful? Certainly not! Nevertheless, I would not have known what sin was had it not been for the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”[b] (8) But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of coveting. For apart from the law, sin was dead. (9) Once I was alive apart from the law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. (10) I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. (11) For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death. (12) So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.

(13) Did that which is good, then, become death to me? By no means! Nevertheless, in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it used what is good to bring about my death, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

(14) We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. (15) I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (16) And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. (17) As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. (18) For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (19) For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. (20) Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

(21) So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. (22) For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; (23) but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. (24) What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (25) Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature[d] a slave to the law of sin.

Summary: Our sin is what comes natural to us strictly because we need others to show us that our sin is sin.

Let’s face it, we all do a great job making dumb choices. Paul’s quote from Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do,” is probably one of the most relatable passages of Scripture in the entire Bible. We sin, and we cannot stop sinning, alone.

Elsewhere in Romans 7, Paul says that he knows that he sins because the Law (of the Old Testament) teaches him what sin is. This is an appropriate way of expressing this, because at root in our human nature is the inability to see things from a different perspective without having had that perspective showed to us. Aristotle famously said that the one “who is unable to live in society…must be either a beast or a god.”[1] Aristotle meant this because it is in community where we learn what is meant to live in a manner that benefits others. When left to our own devices, we will consider ourselves the god of our universe, while others may see us as only a beast.

Our sin is what comes natural to us strictly because we need others to show us that our sin is sin. This is where the next type of prayer comes in. Confession is essential for us to claim mastery over our own sin for the fundamental reason that we need to name our behaviour to recognize the implications of that prayer; we need to call sin, sin. Thus, for us as Christians to be considered right before God, then we have to go before God in prayer and tell him our mistakes.

This is not easy. No one likes to tell someone else about a mistake, because the consequences for wrong behaviour is always negative. So, when we sin, it is incredibly hard to tell the (perfect) God of all creation that we have messed up. As Christians we understand that our sin is what caused our separation from God in the first place and subsequently caused the death of Christ. Ultimately, we understand that our sin will lead us to eternal punishment.

Thus, confession is essential for us to be able to be back in communion with God. Confession, specifically, is the way in which first come to terms with our need for a saviour. Not just a saviour to help us get through our days, but also a saviour that confronts us in our sin and helps us to change our lives. In this verbalizing our sin to God in prayer, we begin to hold our private selves accountable for our actions.

This is where I would like to confront you and ask you about your behaviour. Have you kept your Lenten promise? Have you continued to sacrifice, even when it has been hard for you? Last week we discussed coming to God’s way of love. After your week of lamentation, did you feel you needed a little pick me up to help you cope with your frustration? Did you cheat? Because if you did, you cheated God. If you have kept your promise, congratulations! You are over half way through Lent!

However, chances are, you probably do have sin to confess, as do I. I challenge you now to take time to in a prayer of confession. As you read the Psalm written below, know that this Psalm was written by a man who had not only just committed an affair, but murdered the woman’s husband. This man, David, was recorded elsewhere in the bible as having been a man “after God’s own heart” because of his great spiritual devotion. Yet even this great pillar of faith failed. Let the words of this Psalm be your words for you as you approach God. Know that your sin will be forgiven because of the great sacrifice made by Jesus.

Take time this week to really analyze your behaviour. Look for areas in your life that may need special prayer. Also, I challenge you to find someone you especially trust and confess to that person the things you need help with most.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.

Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem? Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

My Prayer…

My loving Lord, it's so hard to love the world sometimes and to love it the way Jesus did seems impossible. Help me to be inspired by his love and guided by his example. Most of all, I want to accept that I can't do it alone, and that trying is an arrogance of self-centeredness. I need you, dear God, to give me support in this journey. Show me how to unlock my heart so that I am less selfish. Let me be less fearful of the pain and darkness that will be transformed by you into Easter joy. In the Name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Jesus made Himself like the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies to give life. Our hope springs from that love-filled life.

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