Thursday, May 01, 2008

praying our sin

In weekly team "devotions" at work, we're going through certain psalms and prayer with reference to them. Now we're on Psalm 137, entitled "Praying Our Hate." The psalm is beautiful lyrically, but ends in an awful note, asking God to do what others had done to them. While this may have justification in the old covenant, praying that God would avenge or punish victimizers as they had done to their victims, we find this changed in the new covenant in Jesus, so that we probably should at least be slow to pray down judgment, but should rather, pray down reconciliation, the reconciliation of God in Jesus, upon enemies. We do want God's intervention against all evil, but we also would like to see all evildoers repent and believe, and be reconciled to God and to others.

This leads me to the point I want to make in this post, beginning with a question: Is it good for us to pray our sin to God? Of course we know that if we cherish sin in our hearts, the Lord will not hear our prayers. Therefore we can't come to God in prayer while we hold on to sin in our lives. Yet at the same time God wants us to come to him just as we are. And yes, we are sinners in need of grace. So just how can we pray our sin to God and that be legitimate?

To attempt to clarify this, a bit, let's give an example. Let's say someone is getting to you in what they're doing against you. You're sometimes angry with them, or at least tired that you can't get anywhere with them to resolve the problem. How would you pray about this to God?

I have found that as I pray to God about that which I know to be sin in my heart and life, and I do so acknowledging my need for God's grace in forgiveness and cleansing, then God meets me, and I find his help. I've also found that I have to keep coming back to God with the same things at times. Though at other junctures I see that I've grown in being less tempted and taken in by a particular sin. Of course growth is so gradual that we often lose sight of where we were a year ago. We may have made some progress in an area which we little realize now. And this may lead us to ask God to show us other areas that need worked on so that we can pray those as well.

Of course praying our sin here is when sin has got hold of us. As we pray the Spirit is at work in us, interceding to God on our behalf, as well as changing an shaping our hearts according to God's will.

So I guess the lesson for us in this is simply this: When struggling in sin, don't run away from or avoid God, but instead, come to God in prayer. Pray exactly how we think and feel at the time. God will be present to help us.

Any thoughts on this?


Rachel Mc said...

Excellent post and it seems I am always struggling to let go of my sin and admit to God my "issues" with one person or another. Actually, what I have found to be true for me, is I can't handle certain people and certain types of people. It is best for me to tread slowly and give it all up to God. As for your example, I would pray, "God- I just can't handle this person and I am clueless on what to do" and I would actually let the situation/person go. I would stop attempting to fix the problem. I would think about it, a lot, but all outward action would stop until I felt clear direction from God. Yes, this is hard to do but since I am a type "A" personality (and I want to fix everything and everyone) I need to work on realizing my limitations but also realizing God's unlimited powers.

yipeng said...

I believe it would have been more clear if you had provided the next verse at the end...

"but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer." (Ps 66:19) :]

Do Christians cherishes sin? No... for God has taken away our sin... and we are learning to cherish Him.

Yes perhaps... when we induluge in sin... yet whenever that happens and I come to Him BROKEN... I know He accepts me back like the prodigal son and will not turn me away!

L.L. Barkat said...

Just that I agree. And that I find it terribly difficult.

Anonymous said...

i admit that i do have feelings that are not good about people sometimes and anger over some things. i have had anger in the past that persisted for quite a few years and that was very distructive to everyone. and getting closer with the Lord has helped quite a bit in that. i sometimes think of how much anger i could have over someone that has hurt any of my family and other things of such nature. and i hope that i never have to experience that. because in that i can actually see how one can feel like psalm 137...and just reading it is disturbing. but, i still believe in the worst situation that God can destroy anger and can bring reconciliation. i know that this is not done of our power but of God's power. i think it is the best thing to do...pray and tell God exactly what is going on in our heart and mind and ask for help. no matter how small or large situation or need.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Wise words and I would have done better at times to heed such counsel.

Thanks, and it does seem like we do struggle over many things, whether the struggles seem little and not that often or otherwise. And some of it is definitely over sin, no doubt.

So I do think we need to keep praying and as our Lord told the disciples, so that we would not enter into temptation and sin, since thought the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak.

I think the key point for me here is that we simply need to keep on praying. And like you say, sharing it with others so they can pray about it and with us, as well. And confessing all that is wrong to God. Well, I guess I already said all of this on the post.

But thanks for your words here which I hope others read. Helpful. And thanks.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Amen. And thanks for your good, helpful words to us all. So very true!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. Maybe we can liken it to doing the dirty work. Not fun, but must be done. Part of faith, and sometimes requires a friend's faith to help us.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, I hear you. Yes, we need to be honest before God and tell him. This is required; God wants us to tell him even though he knows it already. Confessing our sins as in agreeing with him that such and such is sin. He then forgives and cleanses us, as the passage says.

Some sins we so easily fall back into, and then we have to go back and do the same, maybe over and over again. Important that we keep at it and don't give up or rationalize.

The Walk said...

Excellent thoughts, good post. So often prayer is like a wrestling to surrender our will to God's. Often I find that when I come to Him and I am stuck in a sin, I am not even at the point that I want freedom, but I WANT to want freedom, and as I meet with Him, He brings me to that place...slowly, painfully sometimes...

Ted M. Gossard said...

The Walk,
Thanks. And so true. Good to remember that even when we know our hearts aren't right before God, we can ask him to make them right, and ask him to make us want that.