Lenten prayer ~ Your Holy Law

Tonight I get to lead worship as my brother in Christ from First Presbyterian Church proclaims the word from Exodus 20:1-17. What a joy and privilege it is to worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ; not getting caught up in denominational lines, but focusing on the fact that we worship an awesome God in Jesus Christ.

Below is the opening prayer I wrote, for worship tonight, to help us prepare as we confess our sins. We also need to recognize that God’s Law is still God’s Law; and that it is holy and perfect and sweeter than honey from the comb.

So I invite you into prayer and when you get to the part that says PAUSE, then do what it says; pausing to lift your confessions to God. Let us pray…

Holy God, we approach the throne of grace this evening as a community of believers. We also approach as sinners in need of Your grace. Your holy Law is very clear in that it demands obedience without fail. But we have failed. We have fallen short. We have turned away from Your holy Law. So as we prepare to bring our worship this evening and hear Your word proclaimed, receive now our confessions…[PAUSE]…It awes me to think that You just received the prayers of sinners. And it humbles and scares me to think that you know the sins that we didn’t confess. And so in the name of Jesus we throw ourselves at Your feet and appeal to Your boundless mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord. Forgive us, heal us and restore us. And through our restored souls may we bring glory to Your holy name. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Praise be to God!

The Pastor -|—

God, not gods

“You shall have no other gods before me. [Exodus 20:3]

The first and greatest commandment…

…because without this commandment, everything else falls apart. If God Almighty is not your God then why would you care about honoring His name or remembering the Sabbath Day or have any respect for the other commandments?

You might say, though,

I honor my father and mother.
I don’t go around killing people or stealing from others.
I am faithful to my wife/husband.
I don’t back stab/gossip about people or covet their stuff.

That’s GREAT (on the surface) but you still violate these commandments in your heart and mind; sinning against God. Even thinking about killing someone or just getting angry with someone still violates the commandment (according to Jesus). Looking at another woman/man is cheating on your spouse (according to Jesus). Etc, etc… But then again, if God Almighty is not your God then why would you care?

Jesus says that this is the first and greatest commandment:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

So what does it mean to have others gods (and we all have them; even this pastor)? Anything we fear more than God has become our god. Anything we put before God has become our god. Anything we honor more than God has become our god. And anything we fear losing more than God has become our god. Convicting, isn’t? At least for me it is when I meditate on this commandment.

The fact is: We worship gods.

Think about it:
~ You withhold giving to God because you fear you lack the resources?
~ You skip worship because you fear reprisal from others for not attending a certain event.
~ You spend more money on yourself than giving to others in need.
~ You nurture relationships with people more than you nurture your relationship with God.

And the list goes on. We all fall into one or more of these examples.

Oh God, please forgive me.

So we need to take a faith inventory of our lives and see what gods are taking up residence in our hearts; turning us away from God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. Consider what things and people you think you can absolutely NOT live without. These may be your gods. And then lift these up to God in confession and ask for a heart inclined towards Him. Don’t fall for the lie that the gods in this world can give you anything of value. Only God Almighty can through faith in Jesus Christ. Only the One and True God is worth worshiping. Only the God of heaven and earth can give you your heart’s TRUE desire; eternal life.

Clean house
Sweep away those gods
Seek God

And, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Let’s pray…

Father God, what a travesty that we turn away from you and seek after other gods. Please accept my confession (and the confession of anyone else here seeking You). Please incline my heart to you that I may mediate on your promises and cling to the hope that you give through Jesus Christ. All praise and honor are due to You and You alone. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Pastor -|—