I have rarely been in the presence of a celebrity. We had hockey players come to our hockey banquets when I was a kid and I’m sure I got someone’s autograph…just don’t remember who. When I was in the radio biz we had a number of singers and songwriters and rock stars up to the studio…I avoided them. Didn’t want to let out a squeal like a newly crowned beauty queen. I have met a few celebrity pastors. I almost got my picture taken with John Piper at a conference but it was time for the next session to start so our pic never got snapped…but I love to tell the story. And I met Joe Stowell at Harvest, Chicago, a few years ago and he shook my hand. I can’t remember what I said…hopefully it wasn’t too stupid. When you meet someone who’s popular do you feel week in the knees…maybe a little tongue-tied…or a bit self-conscious? So if you get a little nervous around someone who puts on their flip flops one at a time just like you, how would you do in the presence of almighty God?
Some will swagger up to God in their prayers and tell Him a thing or two. The guy will want to have His ear about how he believes He could have done things better by saving him a pain or two…how she’d do things differently…and how the narrow road should be a little broader. This is a posture before God that is so not cool. It’s so the wrong response. Let me remind you of three guys from Scripture, how they approached a three times holy God.
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:8 ESV)
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6 ESV)
And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5 ESV)
In each of these scenarios, there is a deep self-awareness of sin-drenchedness. These three had seen His character and in light of that, saw their own character. I want to feel like that when I come before the Father in prayer. I want to feel the weight of my sin.
Last time we started a four parter on prayer. We began with adoration, lingering over the greatness of our awesome God and telling Him. We used a few passages of Scripture to remind us of His beauty and His glory and His holiness and some of His other characteristics. And it’s after we linger there that we start to see the sin in the mirror better…our depravity…our waywardness…our sin. There is this grand gap between the ones doing the talking in prayer and the One who listens. And after we’ve lingered for some time in the presence of the Lord we come to grips with our sinfulness and get our faces buried in the dirt.
So we move from adoring God, to confessing. We want to be mournful over our sin. We want to see it the way that God does. Not our faults, not our faux pas, and not our mistakes…our sins. To cover just one of them, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ had to hang on the cross. We often don’t see sin the same way God does. We may not see our sin as bad as the sin out beyond the church walls. We may not see our sin as bad as the sin of the guy or gal in the pew next to us…but we need to.
God’s Word convicts us of our sin. When we hear the Word preached expositionally we will see our sin again and again. When our small group studies the Scriptures, we’ll see our sin. When we read the Bible in the morning, we’ll see our sin. We will see our sin outed all over the Word and when we come to the Father after we’ve basked in His glorious presence in adoration, by the powerful work of the Spirit, we see the cracks, we see those things overlooked for weeks and months, we see the blind spots. If we have a spouse, they help us identify them…so do our kids. So do our friends and accountability partners. So does the community of faith. That’s one of the benefits of the body. They are there to help us see our sin. Our blind spots come to mind that they have challenged us on when we pray.
So please after you’ve lingered over time in adoration, linger again, and allow the Spirit of God to use the Word of God (from what you already know or from what you have just read) to bring conviction to your soul. But don’t just stay there convicted. Run. Run repentantly to the Father and you can be sure that forgiveness will be granted to His kids.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)