198) A Prayer for Self-examination and Confession

     Today’s meditation is brief, but it requires a slow and prayerful reading.  It is taken from the book A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie (1949).  This book contains 62 prayers, one for every morning and evening of the month.  It is one of the resources I use every day in my own personal prayer time.

     I John 1:8 says “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”  Praying this prayer makes us very aware of our sin, and makes such self-deception impossible.  The next verse says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…”  By the end of the fourteen items for self-examination in the prayer, we are more than ready for the confession at the end, and having confessed our sins, we can be assured of God’s forgiveness.

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     Holy God, to whose service I long ago dedicated my soul and life, I grieve and lament before Thee that I am still so prone to sin and so little inclined to obedience:

So much attached to the pleasures of sense, so negligent of things spiritual:

So prompt to gratify my body, so slow to nourish my soul:

So greedy for present delight, so indifferent to lasting blessedness:

So fond of idleness, so indisposed for labor:

So soon at play, so late at prayer:

So brisk in the service of self, so slack in the service of others:

So eager to get, so reluctant to give:

So lofty in my profession, so low in my practice:

So full of good intentions, so backward to fulfill them:

So severe with my neighbors, so good at justifying myself:

So eager to find fault, so resentful at being found fault with:

So little able for great tasks, so discontented with small ones:

So weak in adversity, so swollen and self-satisfied in prosperity:

So helpless apart from Thee, and yet so unwilling to be bound to Thee.

     O merciful heart of God, grant me yet again Thy forgiveness.  Hear my sorrowful tale and in Thy great mercy blot it out from the book of Thy remembrance.  Give me faith so to lay hold of Thine own holiness and so to rejoice in the righteousness of Christ my Savior that, resting on His merits rather than on my own, I may more and more become conformed to His likeness, my will becoming one with His in obedience to Thine.  All this I ask for His holy name’s sake.  Amen.

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I John 1:8-10  —  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Luke 18:13  —  The tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

Psalm 130:1-4a  —  Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice.  Let your ears be attentive  to my cry for mercy.  If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?  But with you there is forgiveness…

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John Stott’s morning prayer:

Good morning, heavenly Father; good morning, Lord Jesus; good morning Holy Spirit.  Heavenly Father, I worship you as the creator and sustainer of the universe.  Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world.  Holy Spirit, I worship you, Sanctifier of the people of God.  Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more.  Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.  Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  Holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three person in One God, have mercy upon me.  Amen.