Saturday, May 8, 2010

Father, be merciful to me, a sinner!

Our family is reading the book of Acts together in our evening devotions. After Jesus' death and resurrection, we find the disciples gathered together, in one accord. They were waiting for the promise of the Holy Spirit, and giving themselves to what?  Prayer and supplication! Now they "get it."  We just plain can not live as faithful friends and representatives of God on this earth without ongoing fellowship with God Himself. 

The disciples, when given to sleep, fled and each in their own way denied Jesus just as He had foretold...they were still loyal to saving their own skin. BUT throughout the book of Acts, when we see them giving themselves humbly to prayer and supplication, we see them promoting the Kingdom of the Living God in both word and deed, empowered by the Holy lives loyal to making much of Jesus, and truly willing to suffer and die for the glory of His name. 

What do we give ourselves to?  There is a reason God tells us to “pray without ceasing”...prayer, or the lack of it, is a pretty big indicator of where our loyalty lies.  But even the presence or absence of prayer doesn’t tell the whole story.

Jesus told us of two men who went to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The content of the Pharisee’s prayer showed he was stuffed with self-righteousness, whereas the tax collector’s humble prayer displayed he understood the disparity between his sinful self and the holy God he was talking to.  They both prayed, but only one went away justified.

There are two camps of Bible readers too.  We might picture two men who are Bible scholars, able to quote texts verbatim for hours.  One is argumentative, judgmental, and righteous in his own eyes.  The other is in such awe of Jesus, Who He is and what He has done, that his life begins to look like a little boy who is found walking down the hallway in his daddy’s humility and amazement, he imitates Him. 

We may attempt to live by the shall and shall nots of His Word, and we may even give verbal assent to following Him, and show up to church on Sunday, but that alone doesn’t make it clear that our loyalties have shifted from self to Christ.  Jesus tells us there are those who’ve cried out “Lord, Lord” who He will say “I never knew you” to...people who had done things “in His name.” 

I know which camp I want to be in.  And I know from even a quick inventory of my life how I often walk in the wrong camp and am a religious white washed tomb, at heart loving God's gifts of comfort, safety, food, sleep, the esteem of mankind, earthly pleasures, and every other good thing more than the Giver Himself.

"Father, be merciful to me a sinner! Empower me with Your Spirit to want what You want, to do all You put into my hand to do for YOUR glory; slay my plans and make me desire You and Your plans.  I pray for Your Kingdom to come and for Your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Do whatever it takes in my life Lord to make me die to self and faithful to You."

Will you join me in making much of Jesus?  A child who walks in his Daddy's shoes knows his Daddy, identifies with him, delights in him, and wants to be like him...and what father isn't honored by such a child?  The child is a happy child and the father is honored.  I KNOW which camp I want to be in...the camp of happy children who honor their Father as they know, identify with, delight in, and imitate Him. 

"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him" - John Piper


  1. Great post my friend. I'm in. I know the camp I want to be in.

  2. A while ago, I heard in a sermon (can't say who), that this was a good beginning to our prayers. so, I've been trying to make it a habit that I always begin my prayers, "Please be merciful to me, Father, a sinner..." It helps me to get in the right frame of mind.

  3. Amen and amen! Repenting daily with you, falling on my face, and in awe of the mercies of Christ! Love the Piper quote--a fav!