Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:8–10)
When we pray, where should we begin?
Perhaps it is easiest to rattle off a list of things you would like God to do for you, or to pray for a friend or family member. Though such prayers are important, the most important thing about you when it comes to prayer is the posture of your heart. Moving straight to earthly concerns when praying—whether yours or others’—can easily become a smokescreen, a way to avoid having to face some of the more displeasing aspects of your own life and character. Yet true believing prayer cannot be so evasive. It instead must begin with what James refers to as “humbling ourselves before the Lord.” The act of prayer is, by its very nature, the authentic expression of a humble heart.
Ronnie Floyd shows how this truth informs his own prayer life when he says, “I like to begin with a time of confession in my personal prayer time.” If we want to humble ourselves before our great God in prayer, it is beneficial to begin with the practice of confession. For without the honest acknowledgement of our sin in God’s presence, we cannot relate to Him as He desires—with a “broken and contrite heart” (Ps. 51:17). To that end, Floyd clarifies what confession is: “Confession is more than admitting to God that you have sinned; it is seeing your sin in view of God’s holiness and being as offended and grieved by your sin as God is. Confession does not involve hiding the truth or shading the truth. True confession is coming clean before God and others about what you have done that is sinful.”
So when you go into the place of prayer, do not bypass this fundamental practice. You cannot evade plain dealings with God and expect to have a flourishing prayer life. Instead, you must acknowledge your sin and agree with God about it, that it grieves Him (Is. 63:10; Eph. 4:30). This is a crucial way that we can humble ourselves before the Him.
As we prepare to worship together on Sunday, take some time to humble yourself by honestly confessing your sin to God. He will hear; He will draw near to forgive and cleanse; He will make you ready to worship Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.
PRAYER AND REFLECTION
- As you’ve read, has the Holy Spirit brought to mind a specific sin in your life? Of what sinful words, behaviors, thoughts, or attitudes is He convicting you? Take a moment to confess it to God. Agree with Him about your sin and ask Him to cleanse you. Pray that He would empower you for righteousness.
- Pray that, as we gather to worship, LifePoint would be a church marked by true, authentic confession. Ask that we would take the presence of sin in our midst very seriously, and that we would pursue holiness in Christ. Pray that He would bring conviction as His Word is living and active among us this Sunday.
Set List for Sunday, February 16, 2020: