You justify the humble

Publican & Pharisee Icon
Publican & Pharisee Icon / Ted / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
 
Humility once exalted the tax collector,
    who bewailed his sin
    and cried: ‘Be merciful,’
    and was justified.
Let him be our example,
    for we have all fallen into the abyss of evil.
Let us cry to the Savior
    from the bottom of our heart:
  we have sinned, be merciful,
    for you alone love us.
 
Lord, you condemned the Pharisee
    who, boasting of his works,
    justified himself.
You justified the tax collector
    who, humbling himself,
    with sorrowful sighing asked for mercy.
For you reject proud hearts.
    but do not reject contrite hearts.
So in humility we prostrate ourselves
    before you, who suffered for us.
Grant us forgiveness
    and generous mercy.
 
From Orthodox Lent. Holy Week, Easter
 
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To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

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remove anything that separates us

Photo by Melissa Askew on Unsplash
 
I beg of you, my Lord,
  to remove anything which separates
  me from you, and you from me.
Remove anything that makes me unworthy
  of your sight, your control, your discipline;
  of your speech and conversation,
  of your benevolence and love.
Cast from me every evil
  that stands in the way of my seeing you,
  hearing, tasting, savoring, and touching you;
  fearing and being mindful of you;
  knowing, trusting, loving, and possessing you;
  being conscious of your presence
  and, as far as may be, enjoying you.
This is what I ask for myself
  and earnestly desire from you. Amen.

Peter Faber, 1506-1546, Jesuit Priest and co-founder of the Society of Jesus
Hearts in Fire Praying with Jesuits

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Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

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Sometimes I choose sin

Photo by Nick Gavrilov on Unsplash
 
Father – the truth about me is that often I choose sin:
    Sometimes I choose hatred.  Sometimes I choose slander.
    Sometimes I choose envy.  Sometimes I choose greed.
    Sometimes I choose pettiness.  Sometimes I choose lust.
    Sometimes I choose gossip.  Sometimes I choose pride.
    Sometimes I choose self-reliance.
    Sometimes I choose self-righteousness.
    Sometimes I choose self-aggrandizement.
    Sometimes I choose dishonesty.
    Sometimes I choose unkind words.
    Sometimes I choose to ignore the obvious needs around me.
    Sometimes I choose to hoard my resources.
    Sometimes I choose to neglect Your command to share the gospel.
The list of things I wrongly choose could go on and on.  And sometimes
I act on these things in ways that are darker than I ever care to state.
Each time I make such a choice, I choose death.
Today, I ask that You breathe life into my soul afresh
    and enable me to choose life – to choose You and Your ways.
 
Kurt Bjorklund, 1968- , American Minister and author or
 
____________________
 
 
For the wages of sin is death, 
    but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Praise to you, saving sacrifice

Twelfth Station / Tango7174 / CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord Jesus Christ,
I approach your banquet table
    in fear and trembling,
    for I am a sinner,
    and dare not rely on my own worth
    but only on your goodness and mercy. . . .
Praise to you, saving sacrifice,
    offered on the wood of the cross for me and for all mankind.
Praise to the noble and precious blood,
    flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord Jesus Christ
    and washing away the sins of the whole world.
Remember, Lord, your creature,
    whom you have redeemed with your blood.
 
John of Fecamp, 1028-1078, Benedictine spiritual writer
 
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And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, 
    he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son 
    while we were still his enemies, 
    we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

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cleanse me from my sin!

Adam and Eve, Sistine Chapel / Sebastian Bergmann / CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
Where shall I begin to weep for the actions of my wretched life?
What first-fruit shall I offer, O Christ, in this my lamentation?
But in Your compassion grant me forgiveness of sins.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
Come, wretched soul, with your flesh to the Creator of all.
Make confession to Him, and abstain henceforth from past brutishness;
    and offer to God tears of repentance.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
I have rivaled in transgression, Adam, the first-formed man,
    and I have found myself stripped naked of God,
    of the eternal Kingdom and its joy, because of my sins.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.  
 
Woe to you, miserable soul! How alike you are to first Eve!
For you have looked in wickedness and were grievously wounded;
    you have touched the tree and rashly tasted the deceptive food.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.   
 
Instead of the visible Eve, I have the Eve of the mind:
    the passionate thought in my flesh,
    showing me what seems sweet;
    yet whenever I taste from it, I find it bitter.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.   
 
Adam was justly banished from Eden,
    because he disobeyed one commandment of Yours, O Savior,
What then shall I suffer, for I am always rejecting Your words of life?
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
By my own free choice I have incurred the guilt of Cain’s murder.
I have killed my conscience,
    bringing the flesh to life and making war upon the soul 
    by my wicked actions.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
  
O Jesus, I have not been like Abel in his righteousness.
Never have I offered You acceptable gifts or godly actions,
    a pure sacrifice or a life unblemished.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
Like Cain, O miserable soul, we too have offered,
    to the Creator of all,
    defiled actions and a polluted sacrifice and a worthless life;
    and so we also are condemned.
 
        Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me.
 
 
Frederica Mathewes-Green, American Orthodox author
 
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Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

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repentance and forgiveness

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Almighty God of Mercy,
 
I come before You in humble submission,
    repenting for my sins.
Though I sincerely believe in Your forgiveness,
    I seek to right my wrongs 
    through a form of restitution acceptable to You.
I feel that my repentance is simply not enough.
I pray to be able to pay back my great debt to You in some way.
 
Lord, I know that the debt is too great to repay in action alone,
    and it is only through the blood of Jesus 
    that we are washed clean and made pure as gold.
I know forgiveness flows freely to those who sincerely repent.
Please accept my humble repentance
    as I lay prostrate before Your throne of grace.
Lord, please receive my efforts with my heartfelt prayer of gratitude
    for your everlasting love and kindness shown to us 
    through Your gift to the world,
    Your only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.
In Christ’s name. Amen.
 
Chestina Mitchell Archibald, Pastor serving in Nashville, TN
 
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In him we have redemption through his blood, 
    the forgiveness of sins, 
    in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

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strength to overcome the temptations

 ChristTempted / John Ritto Penniman / Wikimedia Commons
 
We thank you, Father, for those days in the desert when, 
    through prayer and fasting, 
    Jesus discovered your will for his life 
    and overcame the temptations of the Evil One.
Help us, during these days of Lent, 
    to come close to you and to listen to your voice.  
Give us strength to overcome the temptations 
    to please ourselves and live life without you.
Teach us your way.  For Jesus’ sake.
 
 
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Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,  where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
 

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