Today, we continue sharing devotionals from the book Let’s Pray: Talking to God with the Words of the Bible, by Dr. James Banks, who serves as a pastor at Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina and is a regular writer for Our Daily Bread.
In this short book, we are reminded that the prayers of the Bible are an amazing gift from God and they have so much to teach us.
This is what Alex and Stephen Kendrick talk about in their book The Battle Plan for Prayer in the chapter called ‘Praying the Word.’ In the prayers of scripture, we find words that can help carry our thoughts and emotions to God. He invites us closer to him through the prayers of the Bible.
This week, we’re sharing prayers from the word to confess sin and to humble ourselves.
Dr. Banks writes that of all of Jesus’ names and titles, the one that he likes best is the one that the Pharisees gave him: Friend of Sinners. It may have been one of Jesus’ favorites too, because in Luke 19:10 he said he “came to seek and save those who are lost.” The title Friend of Sinners captures the reason he came better than any other title. Why is that? Because a true friend will love you even when you don’t deserve it and will look for you when you’ve lost your way. Jesus does all of that and more. John 15:13 reminds us that there is “no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
All of us like friendship, but we need to remember that friendship is a two-way street. So as we think of Jesus as our friend, we need to ask ourselves – what kind of friend am I to Jesus? If I’m someone’s friend I’m going to care about our relationship. I’ll be mindful of things that could be hurtful or cause distance between us. Nothing causes Jesus more pain than sin. Remembering how much my sins cost Jesus helps me be a better friend to him. So the Bible’s prayers of confession and humbling ourselves before God also remind us to be a better friend.
There is a lot of honesty in these prayers. 2 Samuel 7:20 says, “You know what your servant is really like.” Psalm 19:12 says, “how can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.”
There’s a real humility in these prayers and a description of what sin does to us. In Psalm 31:10 it says, “sin has drained my strength…I am wasting away from within.” Psalm 40 says, “My sins pile up so high I can’t see my way out.”
All of these prayers clearly show God’s holiness, plus a humble admission that his judgment of sin is justified and the discipline he gives is deserved…
But you also find JOY.
Psalm 32 verses 1 through 2 says, “Oh what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven; whose sin is put out of sight. Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt; whose lives are lived in complete honesty.”
Psalm 66 reminds us, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” So these prayers are teaching us the best way to pray and mark the path that leads to our Savior’s heart. God has left us these prayers in the word to show us the way back to him.
This week’s closing verse is Hebrews 10:22-23. “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Thanks for listening!
– Todd, Lilly and Joe