It isn’t easy to have conversations about sin, particularly with God. Sometimes, the shame of our actions makes it hard. Other times, it’s just hard coming up with the right words. It also isn't easy dealing with the sins we've committed. Despite our own fears and transgressions, the Bible tells us that God wants us to talk to Him about everything, including sin, and we can do this through prayer. We are given an outline for prayer in Luke 11:1-4. In this passage, one of the disciples asks Jesus to teach them to pray, just as John taught his disciples. Jesus replied: “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.” (Luke 11: 2-5).
Notice how sin is a central focus of Jesus’ teaching on prayer? We are called to ask God for forgiveness, not only for our own sins, but for those that others commit against us. And while many of us acknowledge our sin in the form of the Lord’s Prayer in church each week, given we know that our sins are forgiven by God, we too often accept our sin with little apathy because it is an accepted assumption that we’ll sin, and it’s ok because God forgive us. While our God is a loving and forgiving God, the presumption that God just forgives us no matter what we do and how much we do it doesn’t deal with the reality of sin. This mindset sabotages us by allowing sin to disappear from a place of concern. While God’s grace and forgiveness is a beautiful gift, it doesn’t take away from the gravity of sin. It’s important that when we pray to God about the sins we’ve committed, we are truly seeking repentance.
One prayer that I’ve come across on the subject of forgiveness and sin can be a really helpful starting place. It goes like this: Dear God, I admit I am a sinner and need your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus Christ died in my place paying the penalty for my sins. I am willing right now to turn from my sin and accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord. I commit myself to You and ask You to send the Holy Spirit into my life, to fill me and take control and to help me become the kind of person you want me to be. Thank you Father for loving me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
What I love about this prayer is that it calls us to acknowledge our own sin, while also calling us to us to seek God’s guidance in our daily lives and actions. Call on God to create in You a clean heart and mold you into the person He desires you to be. If we want to work on our sin, we have to keep God the center focus in all that we do.
It’s important that we know that forgiveness of sin is the first and deepest kind of healing that Christ brings. In order to experience true healing, you need to make a personal call for change – a change in your actions and a change in your heart. When we reach out to God about sin, it’s important that we listen to God and consider what we are lifting up to Him each day. Remember that prayer is a conversation we have with God, not solely based on God hearing what we have to say, but of us hearing what God is saying to us. Are we coming to God each day, or each week about the same sins we’ve committed? What may God be trying to tell us through our pattern of sin, and our brokenness? Many ask the question “How can we hear God’s voice?” or “What is God trying to tell me?”. The epistle to the Hebrews tells us that “God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1-2). The answers we seek can be found in God’s final word: His Son, who He speaks through. Many of the questions we have concerning sin can be found in Scripture and we can deal with our sin and brokenness by becoming closer with God’s Word. We can’t deal with our sin if we don’t know God and God reveals Himself to us through His Word.