We all live with the same difficulty. What do we do when we have a regret or guilt about something?
Perhaps we carry something from years ago. Maybe there has been this thing we’ve felt stuck with for a long time. Perhaps, even just yesterday we spoke or acted in a way that really hurt another person. What do we do with the worry and the guilt and the anxiety over our mistakes?
Prayer is the meeting place before God where we bring the worry, guilt, and anxiety over the things we carry from years gone by or from yesterday. Prayer is the safe place where the ugly rocks in our pockets can be brought out and placed before God.
Our embarrassment and our shame is loosed off of us, as we come to him this way in prayer.
We come with a contrite heart, “God, I’m so embarrassed and I am sorry.”
Now prayer is never about condemnation for God is never about condemnation. And it is through prayer that we can particularly come to learn and experience the amazing compassion and understanding of God.
For instance, in Isaiah 1:18 we find a stunning example of the all-encompassing understanding of God. The writer of Isaiah begins the book (verses 1-17 in chapter 1) with a litany of the sins of Israel. Basically for hundreds of years all that could go wrong had gone wrong in terms of the people not paying attention to the Lord and walking their own way.
For a very long time they had chosen things of death and destruction over the life and love of the Lord.
Yet at verses 18 we read,
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” Isaiah 1:18 NLT
This matter of sin and disregard for the ways of God need only be replaced by a willing and obedient heart and all that we have been weighed down with, is carried away from us – we need not live under it’s weight any longer. Prayer ushers us into this place before the Lord.
We must come to understand that sin is not the problem, our hiding and shaming and trying to rid ourselves of our sin is the problem.
Mistakes and failures cannot be gone back and undone. We all know this. So we have two choices.
One, we add more regret and shame and embarrassment to the sack on our back (except that we were never made for sacks of such things, and such things only make us physically sick in the long run), or Two, we turn to God with our regret, shame and embarrassment.
Again, sin isn’t the problem. Does sin create problems? For sure! But in Christ sin is no longer the problem, (Christ took care of the sin problem years ago). Not turning to God with our sin, this is the problem.
So we either turn away from God and try to fix ourselves by ourselves, or we turn to God and allow his grace, loving-kindness, and compassion, to wash away the grit and the grime, (and the big lumps of coal that we may be carrying).
Prayer turns us to God. It truly is as simple and yet as profound as this.
Today, turn to God in prayer. You don’t have to have fancy words. Just a heart that is honest and a trust that he meets you in this place.
Perhaps today you might risk to take one lump of coal out of your own bag of regrets, embarrassments, shame, and mistakes, and put it at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.
Allow, inviting and receiving, the compassionate work of Jesus Christ to wash the weight of that thing away.
Take on forgiveness. Take on grace. Enter into compassion for yourself. God is waiting for you there.
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