For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10
I have a sorry prayer life. No really, I do. I know that prayer is a very important part of life. The Bible talks so much about it. And honestly, it isn’t that it is terribly hard. If you look and listen to what Jesus says about prayer, you will see how important – but how simple it is. He gave us His now famous lesson on prayer which we call the Lord’s Prayer but it is better called the Disciples Prayer or the Model Prayer. The Model Prayer was not that long, contained no big, spiritual words, and it was straight to the point.
Now if all this is true, why do I struggle with prayer so much? Why do you struggle with prayer so much? Well, I can’t and shouldn’t speak for you but I can speak for me. I have a “sorry” prayer life. Now you might be sayings, “Dewayne don’t be so harsh on yourself. It can’t be that bad.” Well, actually I’m not using sorry as an adjective for my prayer life but rather as a way to tell you about two things that I throw in my prayer life that really shouldn’t be there. What are they?
Here’s how it works, way too often I find myself telling God that I am sorry for this and sorry for that. Now that really sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, I can’t think of a single time where God told me to tell Him I was sorry for my sin. Nope, I can’t think of once. You know how it goes. We tell God good morning and then begin to tell Him that we are sorry for this and sorry for that and of course, we are sorry for this and that. And most likely the next morning, you find yourself telling Him you were sorry for the same things all over again. There is a better way.
The better prayer is a prayer of repentance. It is fine to let Him know you are sorry, but don’t stop there. Let Him know that you intend to not do this or that again. Repentance is a great Bible word that means to have a change in attitude and/or a change in direction. When you repent you are telling God that you are changing your attitude toward that juicy sin. You are going from liking to hating and from clinging to leaving.
Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament, said that godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly grief produces death. In other words repentance leads to life and being sorry leads to the death of your joy and peace. Oh, and by the way, be sure and ask Him for His power and strength to do that because you will surely need it. This whole Jesus journey is all about Him anyway. So be sorry, that can’t hurt, but do, do repent. It’s a game changer.
Now the other part of my “sorry” prayer life goes like this. I spend several minutes or longer telling God just how sorry I am. No, not like what we’ve already talked about. This kind of sorry is the kind that tells God how much of a failure I am, how I am worthless, how I have never succeeded and so I probably won’t succeed today either. I am one sorry piece of creation. Really? I hate to admit it but I’ve been known to do it. It’s like telling God He is junk maker and not a masterpiece creator. I’m speaking to me but you can join in. It is time to believe what God says about us and not what the devil says. Let’s not waste our prayer time telling God how messed up we are but rather thanking Him for making us a new creation.
I know, trust me I know, I (or we) are not perfect. I know I (or we) fail too many times. But those imperfections, those failures, do not determine who we are. God determines who we are and when we put our faith in His Son we are precious in His sight and we are His trophies of grace. Let’s not try and convince Him otherwise (as if we could) but rather let’s spend those precious moments in prayer thanking Him for all of His marvelous grace.
I think it is time we change our “sorry” prayer lives. What about you? Are you willing to leave the mess at the door and enter His grace room with repentance and gratitude for all He has done for you? Are you willing to turn your “sorry” prayer life into a time of celebration of forgiveness and hope? Well, I’m sure going to give it a whirl. I know that when I do I’m going to find that rest I’ve been looking for. And I’m going to get up and believe like He’s got it. Because He does.