Pray BIG Prayers – Repentance

If you look up repentance in a dictionary you’ll find something like this for a definition, 

sincere regret or remorse.

This isn’t talking about trivial things like ‘I regret not buying any more milk, now we’re out‘,

or ‘I am remorseful that I honked my horn at that guy on the highway earlier‘.

Repentance is a serious thing, a sincere thing.

It’s more of a ‘I’ve committed adultery and had the former husband sent off to the frontlines and killed‘ kind-of feeling.

It’s a feeling of ‘At the core I know I’m a sinner and that my sin will have consequences‘. 

Psalm 51 carries a lot of repentance. You can read it in full here. In the middle of the lamenting prayer we read this,

 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.

Psalm 51.10-12

Have you reached a point in life where you know that you will never, hard as you try, work yourself into becoming a better person? 

Have you arrived at the point where you know that in your own strength, you cannot control your eternal destiny and destination?

Have you accepted that, left to your own devices, sinful thoughts and actions just pour forth from your heart?

If you have, then today’s BIG prayer is absolutely for you. Although fair warning, be prepared for a radical life transformation. Be prepared to reevaluate and reconsider everything in your life. Be prepared to be shown a completely new way of thinking, speaking, acting, and reacting.

It starts with create in me a clean heart, O God. We cannot create this new heart, God must (Genesis 1, Ezekiel 36.36). 

We follow that by praying for a right spirit within me. Alone we are utterly powerless to resist the temptations, trials, and tribulations that the world, the flesh, and the devil can throw at us. We need the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to do so. 

Accepting that we cannot change ourselves and our life means that we need to trust and rely on another, so we pray cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. We know that being separated from the Lord and devoid of His Spirit is the consequence of our sin. 

Try as we might, we will never save our own souls. We can never work for our own salvation, so we pray restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. We will never feel more alive, live more abundantly, and experience more fulfilment than when we know the joy of [the Lord’s] salvation

Psalm 51.10-12 is a BIG prayer. Praying it sincerely will surely result in a change in your life. If, as Charles Spurgeon wrote, your own sin disturbs and disgusts you, I would challenge you today to take it to the Lord in prayer with these verses and this BIG prayer, and then watch what God can do with a life yielded to Him. Ready?

 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.

Psalm 51.10-12

1 Timothy 5.17-20 – The Elder Example

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 20 As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.

Paul transitions back into how the church should be led and structured and mentions the elders who rule well. Timothy as the pastor is instructed on how to deploy elders as part of his role, as is Titus in Titus 1.5. Those who serve as elders are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. Here Paul is talking about those that give their lives to the proclamation of the Word. The honor is the respect of those being fed the Word by these men (Hebrews 13.7), but also that these men are to be employed by the church (v.18). In our modern day church this would look something like the lead pastor, the senior pastor, the teaching pastor, or however your church likes to use those terms. 

The character of the elder who preaches and teaches, the elder who serves in a spiritual oversight role, and everyone who displays elder-like character (which should be all of us), are given a stern warning when we read that as for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear

Not concealing the sins of those in leadership is a bold move for any organisation to make, especially the church. We want our leaders to be of good character, leaders we can follow with a clear conscience, leaders who will point us to Jesus in their words and ways.

Elders should be of such good character that we can say that we will not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. However, should they fall into sin, they should still serve as an example, hopefully of a contrite and repentant spirit who humbles themselves before the Lord and seeks forgiveness and restoration. 

Isn’t this the kind of character we all need to display, not just those asked to serve in a particular capacity for a particular period?