Prayer - ‘Sterling Silver' Confession
Not long ago I was given a treasure from my family of a very old spoon made of silver. I understand it went back a few generations, coming from ‘the old country' with the intricate designs commonly crafted on silver pieces of its time. However, the spoon was black with tarnish and I needed to clean it somehow without damaging the luster or shape. It was sterling silver with not many alloys in it to strengthen the metal, thus it was also fragile and completely useless without being clean. I did find something to remove the years of blackened layers of neglect and the results were stunning.
I placed it in the drawer with the rest of the flatware and soon found out that it started to show the signs of tarnish once again. So, out came the faithful cleanser and it was immediately restored to its beauty. I knew now exactly what to do and I know it will need to be done on a regular basis to keep its brilliance.
I believe this picture clearly illustrates a part of our prayer life that we sometimes neglect and that is confession. In the prayers of the early church and still present in many worship models is the inclusion of confession during the worship service. These are truly wonderful intimate words that maybe have become stale ritual to some but it was never the purpose intended for these prayers of confession. Though they were recited corporately as a body, they were simply pointing to the fact that we need to be clean before a perfect God and must be confessed on a daily basis.
In our world, we do not like to appear in the wrong before anyone - especially those we fellowship with at church. We are all good Christian brothers and sisters, praising the Lord with happy hearts, right? But nothing is hidden from God. He knows we are not clean before Him. We commit sin on a constant basis, even if it is the sin of neglect (not loving our neighbor, indifference to injustices, harboring thoughts of envy, jealousy, pride, entitlement, etc.) and soon our excuses for not confessing become a maze of masks we wear in public, trying to ‘save face' rather than the pure luster of a clean heart and mind before Him and others.
The early church really did make it very simple for us in that it was a part of every time they prayed together - confession was simply included and not always a heart wrenching display of remorse as we sometimes perceive confession to be. It was a burning desire to simply be in communion with God, getting us into the right alignment of speaking freely to Him in prayer after the assurance of His forgiveness and going forth in new strength not our own.
Yes, there are times when our remorse of sin is very heavy. It is much like the heavily tarnished spoon mentioned above. Because sin has not been addressed, it has blackened the surface of our heart and clouded the brilliance from our mind. We become jaded and try to be useful to God in this state but it truly is not a brilliant service. The Word of God will do its bidding and eventually we bow in repentance, being thoroughly washed clean.
But this process is ongoing and as I learn more of Christ in scripture, I see more and more how I fall short of His beauty in my life. But I am assured that as my sin is being revealed to me each time that if I confess my sin, He is faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. It is ongoing maintenance before the Lord - as I confess Him as Savior and Lord; I confess any hindrance right away that keeps me from that perfect relationship with Him. He invites us to do that gladly and without hesitation.
As you start this New Year of 2008, may you experience the freedom of confession so that your frequent and confident prayers to the Lord continue to be bright, shining and spotless words of love and power for His purpose.