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 [ourselves]. 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 lives 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 being 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

The Song Of Solomon 8.8-14

After a passionate and prolonged look at relationships we come to the end of The Song Of Solomon:

“We have a little sister,

and as yet she has no breasts.

What shall we do for our sister

on the day when she is spoken for?

If she is a wall,

we will build on her a battlement of silver;

but if she is a door,

we will barricade her with boards of cedar.

I was a wall,

and my breasts were like fortress towers.

Then I found favour in his eyes.

Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon;

he leased out the vineyard to those who maintained it.

Each was to bring 1,000 shekels of silver for its fruit.

My vineyard, which belongs to me, is at my disposal alone.

The thousand shekels belong to you, O Solomon,

and 200 shekels belong to those who maintain it for its fruit.

O you who stay in the gardens,

my companions are listening attentively for your voice;

let me be the one to hear it!

Make haste, my beloved!

Be like a gazelle or a young stag

on the mountains of spices.”

(The Song Of Solomon 8.8-14, NET)

The book ends with a look back from, possibly, the family of the bride (vv.8-9). Respecting her wishes (v.9) they are committed to caring for her until she is of an age to make her own decisions which she does in v.10. We read of the favour found in her marriage and how she now understands her own value after extolling her husband’s so many times:

Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon;

he leased out the vineyard to those who maintained it.

Each was to bring 1,000 shekels of silver for its fruit.

My vineyard, which belongs to me, is at my disposal alone.

The thousand shekels belong to you, O Solomon,

and 200 shekels belong to those who maintain it for its fruit.

(vv.11-12)

A key component to relationships is knowing our own value and not allowing others to dictate it to us (read Genesis 1.27 and John 3.16 for the briefest of looks into how God feels about you and your value).

The book closes with the same passion that it opens with (v.14, cf. 1.2) and we are left with a beautiful, insightful, and at times profound look at the developing relationship between a husband and wife. This, however, is not where the instruction ends. Many times we have pointed to the ultimate and foremost relationship we have: with God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth (Genesis 1.27, 1 John 4.19).

Whilst often overlooked, I would encourage you to come back to The Song Of Solomon regularly to see that Divine relationship exampled in the main protagonists here and when you do, enjoy the truth that you are known, loved, and valued by the One who matters most.

The Song Of Solomon 8.1-7

With one final ode to their love before the book starts to close, the bride again speaks:

“Oh, how I wish you were my little brother,
nursing at my mother’s breasts;
if I saw you outside, I could kiss you—
surely no one would despise me! 
I would lead you and bring you to my mother’s house,
the one who taught me. 
I would give you spiced wine to drink, 
the nectar of my pomegranates. 

His left hand is under my head,

and his right hand embraces me. 

I admonish you, O maidens of Jerusalem:

“Do not arouse or awaken love until it pleases!”

Who is this coming up from the wilderness,

leaning on her beloved?

Under the apple tree I aroused you;
there your mother conceived you,
there she who bore you was in labor of childbirth.

Set me like a cylinder seal over your heart, 
like a signet on your arm. 
For love is as strong as death, 
passion is as unrelenting as Sheol.
Its flames burst forth, 
it is a blazing flame. 
Surging waters cannot quench love;
floodwaters cannot overflow it.
If someone were to offer all his possessions to buy love, 
the offer would be utterly despised. 

(The Song Of Solomon 8.1-7, NET)

The bride wishes her relationship would be so open and so accepted by those around her, much like that of a brother and sister (vv.1-2). Surely, she feels, when that does happen no one would despise [her] and she would be free to conduct herself as one madly in love as and where she pleases (vv.1b-2).

After, it seems, drifting into more daydreaming (vv.3-5) we read of the bride’s desire to have their relationship recognised as permanent and lasting (vv.6-7). Love, she says, cannot be purchased (v.7b) and should be passionate (v.6). It should, she says, be modelled on the very love of God (v.6b, perhaps your Bible translates blazing flame as flame of the Lord).

From this passage we can take two major points for our own lives and relationships;

First, that love is to be recognised as permanent (v.6).

We should not enter lightly into relationships and we should never take the covenant of marriage as something that can be lightly broken (cf. Matthew 19.9). Love is, we read, as strong as death…as unrelenting as Sheol.

Second, that love cannot be bought (v.7).

Love is something that we learn of and first experience as coming from God (cf. 1 John 4.7, Psalm 86.15). As we accept and live in this kind of love, a love that is totally undeserved and totally unearned, we are then called to go and offer this to others. No, it won’t all be in the same context as the marital love we have read of in much of The Song Of Solomon, but the truth of loving others more than ourselves, of putting the needs of others before our own, and loving without expectation of any return is a lesson we can all take and all apply.