Do you have a routine for your prayer time? I’d love to peek in on your prayer closet. I’m still tweaking this system, and still haven’t made up my mind if I want to continue to use a bound book, or go to a three ring binder. I’m leaning toward the 3 ring binder for a variety of reasons, but have committed to keep the beta version until school supplies go on sale…what is that, August/September? I may do a trial run of a 3 ring binder at that time…one of the perks of that system is that I can add pages at will, and in a bound book, I’m bound to the number of pages I allotted myself at the beginning…I’m running into that issue right now in my journal. I’m trying to be patient with myself for now, and ride it out. What do you think?
Anyway…back to the journal:
As you may have guessed, I also have made a tab for my Contrition/Confession section (note: My tab says “confession” on the front, but if I had it to do over, I’d use the word contrition instead. When I was making it, I could not for the life of me remember the word “contrition”, which I believe is a better word for the “C” part of my system, as it involves confession but goes deeper, and brings about a godly sorrow over sin and it’s effects.
This is my “confession” tab. I chose the verse from Psalm 139:43 and a word picture from a recent study of Colossians chapter 3.
Since these are areas that I personally struggle with in my everyday life, I like to have a visual prompt of what each looks like. I envision a literal removing of an old, tattered and dirty garment, and the putting on of a new, shiny, valuable one.
On the backside, I have a prompt for the fruits of the Spirit. If I am in a place of being continually filled with the Spirit, my life will produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, generosity, faithfulness, and self control. If I’m finding myself lacking in any of these, and I do, often, then I know and remind myself that this is not from the Spirit of God, but works of my own old nature, and/or willful sinfulness, and I want to confess and rid myself of that right away.
After the adoration portion of my quiet time, while I am focused on who God is, and His attributes, I become keenly aware of the striking contrast of His glory and the state of my heart. I am convicted in my spirit of the areas that I fall short, as I focus on His faithfulness, and see my unfaithfulness; as I focus on His patience and lovingkindness, and remember my impatience and harsh tone taken with my loved ones…see what I mean? It is a very vulnerable time…open before the Maker of the Universe, the King of kings, and the One I bow to and call “Lord”; the One of whom I live to imitate, the One I wish to be like. While I am here, in this revelation of the areas that I fall short, and those areas that He wishes to transform to His image, I become contrite; that is full of sorrow and remorse for my failures and sins. I weep over my inadequacies, and lack of holiness, and I fly to Him who I know is full of mercy and pardon; here in my private prayer closet, at this time, I pray:
O Lord, You know how many and how great are my failings. You know how often I sin, from day to day, from hour to hour, in what I do, and in what I fail to do. O Lord my God, I resolve no more to provoke You, and to desire nothing more than You, for You are alone truly lovable. If I should offend You again, please grant me the strength to find favor anew in Your eyes and to lead a life more pleasing to You. Amen.
I know that the Lord forgives me when I ask, because I am told so in His Word (1 John 1:9). I also know that there are deep seated habits and reasons for my failings, there are areas that I need the accountability that comes with confessing our sins to one another. When the Lord reveals these to me, I write them down on a sticky note, that I take with me to Reconciliation. If I don’t write it down, I forget it, and that sin or weakness or stronghold and its memory gets buried. It might not show up again until I am in a similar situation, and because there is sin that has not been reconciled to God, I can trip over it again. Going to confession and bringing these weaknesses into accountability with another is embarrassing, and a deterrent to the sin in itself (at least for me it is).
When I have confessed, and done my penance, and received absolution for my sin(s), that sticky note has completed its task, and is destroyed. Burning it, tearing it into tiny bits, or even flushing it are effective ways of visualizing that sin has been purged and removed from my life. I am forgiven, and it is no longer held against me. I think it’s important to mention here that God does not hold it against me, but He often does not remove the consequences of those sins from me. While I enjoy sweet fellowship with God, I may still have the consequence of a strained relationship with someone who I have hurt with my choices, or other consequences that come from my missing the mark.