A Prayer For The Week’s End
March 23, 2023
“Lord, did I participate well with You?”
On Sunday , our church was introduced to this as our prayer for Friday – to seek the Lord, to reflect and to examine our week at its end with this simple, yet specific question. We’ll be using the Psalms as a lens for a prayer of confession, to reflect on our deepest longing to be whole and right before God.
But before you read any further, write your one word on a piece of paper or type it as a note on your phone. As you read through the blog, consider the ways your word contributes to you participating well. How does your one word help you reflect on your actions and thoughts? How does one word encourage you to live a life wholeness?
Confession is often seen as a response to guilt. We need to confess because we feel guilty.
But the most devastating consequence of sin is not guilt, but separation.
Sin separates, it literally disintegrates us so we cannot find peace in ourselves, or with others. We often can’t articulate exactly what is wrong, only that something isn’t right.
Shame exploits the idea that if we can just get rid of the guilt, we can get on with our lives.
Psalm 32:5 NIV
Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
Psalm 32:5 does give us a sense of relief that God has forgiven us. But if we only see our confession as a means of getting rid of guilt, we end up attempting to manage our emotions. We will try to convince ourselves we feel better, even when we don’t.
That’s because confession and forgiveness isn’t about managing the emotion of guilt, but rather the restoration of our soul. When we confess, we are not just agreeing that our sin is bad, we are acknowledging that our sin separates us from the life we most want to live— the life for which we have been made.
God’s forgiveness doesn’t just deal with the things we’ve done, His forgiveness is actually the foundation for our relationship with Him.
REFLECTION & PRAYER
To help direct our thoughts when we pray and confess, here are some questions and ideas from Sunday’s message. Consider them in light of the week you are leaving behind.
Lord, did I participate well with You?
What do I tend to hide from others?
What things do I attempt to defend?
What things have I justified?
In what areas and situations in my life have I worked really hard to convince myself that nothing is wrong, but inside I know something isn’t right?
In our prayer of confession, let’s acknowledge what we have done – the actions, the activity, or the attitudes that we sense are continually separating us from the life God has made available to us.
Sometimes, we have to acknowledge that we desire the things that are separating us from God. We don’t really feel bad for these desires, we just know they aren’t what God intends for us or how things should be.
Personally, this has helped me so much as I have learned to be honest with God and trust Him with my desires. As I walk with Him, I trust Him to awaken more and more of my own heart towards Him and His ways.
So, sometimes our confession begins with something like this: Lord, I know you love me and you are trustworthy. Help me to trust You.
As we prepare to look at the prayer of confession below, there is no pressure to manufacture guilt or be paralyzed by it. Let’s walk through Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV) together.
Psalm 51:10-12 (ESV)
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
Down below is the prayer again, but this time, let’s take a moment and read each line slowly and intentionally. If you aren’t in the middle of a bunch of people where it would be weird, read it out loud. Listen to your voice as you say the words. As you do, assess how you feel and your thoughts as you ask these things of the Lord.
Create in me a clean heart- Lord, not just a clean slate, but a clean heart.
A heart that is devoted and willing and hopeful.
Renew a right spirit within me- Lord, that things that I sense are wrong, could you untangle and restore as I return to You and Your way? Before I even have to act on anything, would you make me right again?
How does it feel to be still in this moment and to be clean and right, to be whole? Don’t rush ahead, just allow God to answer this and do this work, in this moment.
We might feel like we should be punished because of what we have done or because of our indifference to what we have done or a thousand things in between. I think the Psalmist anticipated this and asked not to be banished in the verses that follow.
Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
This comes from that sense of unworthiness that accompanies our guilt. But we don’t have to hide or run or cower or promise. Just articulate these words to our God,
Don’t cast me aside or out. Don’t abandon me.
Hear God declare: I will never leave you nor forsake you. Not only are you not forsaken, but you belong.
Again, do a quick gut check. How does it feel to belong and to be included?
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
This is a beautiful confession. There is joy in being forgiven and living in forgiveness. There is a freedom that comes with not having our past hanging over our heads.
Lord, let us feel that joy again– without second guessing and without the sting of regret.
And I love this last line… this is what replaces the promise we think we need to make, the promise of “Lord, I won’t do this or that again.” Instead, the prayer is for a willing spirit (vs. 12).
Lord, awaken my heart and soul to things that You want and make me come alive with Your life.
This is a simple request, a prayer for God to give us a willingness to remain with Him, in His way. As we end this week, and begin another.