Create in me a clean heart

image / pixabay 

 
I thank you, my dear God,
    that I have learned not to begin faith by my own efforts, 
    nor attempt to destroy my sin with my own repentance.
I might do this before other people
    and be acceptable to the world and its judges.
But with you, O God, there is an eternal wrath 
    which I cannot satisfy,
    and before it I would despair.
Therefore I thank you that Another 
    has seized and carried my sins 
    and has made atonement for them.
 
With joy I wish to believe this.
It seems so very right and comforting to me.
But I cannot believe it by myself,
    and I find no power in me to convince myself.
I cannot comprehend it as I ought.
 
Lord, lead me, help me.
Give me the power and the gift to believe.
I plead, as did David:
    “Create in me a clean heart, O God,
        and put a new and right spirit within me.”
I am unable to create a new and clean heart: it is your work and creation.
I cannot create the sun and moon
    and make them rise and shine brightly in the heavens
    any more than I can make the heart clean and give myself a right spirit,
    a strong and firm frame of mind that is unbending and unwavering
    and that will not doubt or mistrust your Word.
 
Help us daily to increase in faith.
Though the world should topple and all conspire against us,
    and though the devil were to destroy every creature,
    grant that I may not fall.
By your divine help let me remain in the Gospel.
Amen.
 
Martin Luther, 1483 – 1546, German Reformer
 
______________________________
 
 
Create in me a clean heart, O God,

    and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.

prepare the way to You

image / Maxpixel / CC0
 
Lord Jesus Christ, listen to the voice of our distress 
    in the desert of penitents crying out to you;
    that we may not be deceived 
    by the falsehood of discussion in nobility of birth, 
    from superstition of religion, 
    from curiosity of knowledge tempting us; 
grant us to prepare the way to you by abandoning sin,
    by the purpose of repenting,
    by the remission of wrongs,
    by contempt of temporal things,
    and by the observing of the commandments.
May your paths be made straight in us 
    by the renunciation of our own will, feeling, self-confidence,
    by the spending over and above of deliberations;
that in the house of Bethany of obedience 
    baptized with the water of true contrition, 
    with the Holy Spirit and with fire across Jordan, 
    and after the river of the last judgment 
we may perfectly know you,   
    the Mediator of virtue and knowledge, 
    the Mediator of God and men.
 
St. Albert the Great, 1206-1280, German Dominican
 
______________________________
 
 
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, 
    so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith,
    just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit,
    according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, 
    and not according to Christ. 
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 
    and you have been filled in him,    
    who is the head of all rule and authority.
 

Continue reading

repentance and forgiveness

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash
 
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
 
____________________________
 
 
In him we have redemption through his blood, 
    the forgiveness of sins, 
    in accordance with the riches of God’s grace

Continue reading

to finish my course of service

image / Joshbdork at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons
 
I know, O Lord, and do with all humility acknowledge myself 
    an object altogether unworthy of your love;
    but sure I am, you are an object altogether worthy of mine.
I am not good enough to serve you,
    but you have a right to the best service I can pay.
Do then impart to me some of that excellence,
    and that shall supply my own want of worth.
Help me to cease from sin according to your will,
    that I may be capable of doing you service according to my duty.
Enable me so to guard and govern myself,
    so to begin and finish my course that,
    when the race of life is run,
    I may sleep in peace and rest in you.
Be with me to the end, that my sleep may be rest indeed,
    my rest perfect security and that security a blessed eternity.
 
St. Augustine of Hippo, 354-430
 
_____________________
 
 
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Continue reading

Lord, we lament the state of our nation

 image by Billy Hathorn, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
 
Lord, we lament the state of our nation.

Lord, we lament the divisions between us as people in our nation that we cannot seem to resolve.

Lord, we lament the pain, confusion, hatred, and violence that seems to reign in our personal and national life.

Lord, we lament the lack of leadership in our government that has in many ways led to the state of affairs in which we now find ourselves.

Lord, we lament the darkness in our own hearts that contributes to this situation.

Lord, we pray for those who perpetrated the attacks on the Capitol, and the broader attacks on our democracy, to be brought to justice and ultimately to repentance.

Lord, we pray for truth to reign in our national conversations and our communities, as well as in our church.

Lord we pray for President Trump, during the final days of his administration, that he will fulfill his duties responsibly.

Lord, we pray for President-elect Biden, that he will have wisdom as he prepares to assume office on January 20.

Lord, we pray for all our elected officials in the Senate and House of Representatives to be led by Your grace and wisdom, whether they want to be or not.

Lord, we pray for protection of our nation from any adversaries who would seek to harm us during this perilous transitional period.

Lord, we remember that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12), so we pray that You would protect us from all spiritual evil that seeks to bring devastation upon us.

Lord, we pray for healing of relationships between Americans who are deeply divided by partisanship, that they will seek to resolve their differences peacefully and cooperate where possible for the common good.

Lord, we pray for protection of those in other countries suffering persecution, who have seen the United States as a model of democracy, who may now be endangered as dictators are emboldened to commit further abuses.

Lord, we pray for all who follow the Prince of Peace, that we will humble ourselves before God and allow the light of Christ to shine through us into our dark and broken world.

And Lord, we pray for our own church that we might stand in Your truth, be filled with Your grace, live as one through Christ, and might boldly walk forward as witnesses to You and Your Kingdom, individually and corporately.

All this we pray through Jesus Christ, who with You and the Holy Spirit, are one God, both now and forever. Amen.
 
Matt Erickson, pastor serving in Milwaukee, WI, blogging at Renovate
 
_______________________
 
 
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
 
 

Continue reading

fleeing towards you

I am frightened of living, Lord.
My whole life seems sinful or sterile.
Any fruits I bear are either false or rotten.
Nothing I do seems pleasing to you.
I am a barren tree that deserves
To be chopped down, cut up and burnt.
I bear only the sharp and bitter thorns of sin.
If only those thorns could prick me into repentance.
Inside me my conscience burns.
I dare not show myself, yet I have nowhere to hide.
What will happen to me?
Who will protect me from your wrath?
Where can I find safety?
Lord, you are my judge in whose hands I tremble.
Yet you also are the one who can save me.
Though I fear you, I trust you.
Though I want to flee from you, I flee towards you.
Jesus, Jesus, forget the sin by which I have provoked you,
    And see only the misery which invokes you.
Most kind Lord,
Confirm in me all that belongs to you.
And cast away all that is alien to you.

Continue reading