“This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear.
Yesterday we looked at the first part of prayer, which was adoration. Today we will focus on the second part of prayer which is confession. Greg Ogden writes, “The natural movement of our hearts is to see the darkness of our lives in the light of His radiance.” When we measure our lives against God’s moral perfection, we begin to see how sinful our hearts are. The word confess means “to agree with.” In confessing to God, we are agreeing with God about what He sees. By making confession a regular part of our conversation with God, we are giving Him permission to show us our lives through His eyes.
In this part of prayer, we are focusing on God’s forgiveness. Confession is the “courageous and honest admission that we have violated God’s holy law and are in desperate need of forgiveness.” The idea of confession brings to mind a confusing issue. How do we distinguish between Satan’s accusations and God’s conviction? Satan’s accusations (self-condemnation) are designed to alienate us from God. God’s convictions come from above and are designed to restore our intimacy with God.
God’s convicting Spirit is penetrating, focused, and piercing. The Spirit unmasks specific sins, and we are then led to godly sorrow and grief over how we violated our relationship with God. From this place we are led to repentance, which means a change of behavior. And then immediately the Lord cleanses our spirit so that inwardly we feel restored and renewed.
Satan wants us to wallow in unnamed guilt, but God’s conviction is focused and meant to lead us to restoration. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. John writes, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Questions to Ponder:
If God already knows what our sins are, why does He ask us to confess them? How does confession benefit the one who is praying? Are you able to distinguish between condemnation and conviction? Do you feel safe confessing your sins to the One who already knows about them? Why or why not?
- Praise the LORD, for He is Holy and calls us to be holy. Praise Him for His kindness that leads us to repentance. Praise the Father of lights who brings to light our sin that is kept in darkness.
- Thank Him for his incredible grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Oh, what love of our Father; what love of the Son! Oh, how loved I am by You the King of kings and Lord of lords! Open wide my heart to Your ways. Help me to remember, Spirit of truth, to allow You to search me and know me. That I may not cherish sin in my heart but instead, return to You in confession and receive mercy.
- Pray for yourself and our church family. That we would not allow sin to grow in our hearts and lives, but instead, we would keep short accounts with the Lord throughout the day.
- Pray we all will know the difference between conviction and condemnation.
Holy and Righteous Father, Glorious and Perfect are You. Forgive me, Abba, for being selfish and greedy. I confess slander, gossip. complaining, delayed obedience. You see, Lord, that I have judged others and pointed the finger. Oh, Father I fall on the ground and say that I am a sinner—wretched person I am.
Forgive me, have mercy, for I have sinned against You and sinned against others. Cleanse me and make me whiter than snow. Thank You for Your forgiveness and being so gracious, merciful, and kind. Lord, I ask that this week You would help us, Your church, to respond to You in the place of confession. Abba, for any areas in our life that we need to invite others into, to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another so we may be healed, I ask that You would provide that this week. Bless our time all together tonight at Leadership Prayer. Lead us by Your Holy Spirit. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.