While I was in graduate school I used to frequent a small used-book shop near the campus. One afternoon I found a small, green book of verses, prayers and poems that quickly became a favorite of mine. I don’t read it daily or even weekly, which heightens my amazement that God so often uses the words of a randomly selected reading to address a specific need in my heart. Today I opened the small book and found a prayer that perfectly articulated what my heart has been trying to say to the Lord all week. But first, let me explain how this week developed.
I recently discovered a podcast of a woman I heard speak at a conference some time ago. As I listened, I was struck by her profound gratitude for the daily covering of God’s grace in her life. She was immensely grateful for the saving grace of God, and she poured this gratitude out in worship to the Lord in a way that I have never seen before. I knew right away that, as much as I would like to tell myself otherwise, I do not have that same level of gratitude to the Lord. I express my gratitude in prayer and worship, but it does not move me the way it moves this woman.
After contemplating this realization for awhile, I have identified one critical difference between myself and the woman I was listening to: the lack of awareness of sin in my daily life.
I can’t remember the last time I’ve purposefully stopped to take an account of my day, confess my specific sins (whether they be blatant or silent), and ask God to forgive those specific things which offend His very character. I pray for forgiveness and for the power to change, but I am convinced that moving towards this type of daily confession would develop a keen awareness of my desperate need for grace and forgiveness, which would then result in a profound gratitude for a God who not only lavishes this grace upon me but does so freely and joyfully. Hopefully, this whole process will then ignite a passion for purity and holiness in my daily activities as well.
This type of reflection and personal confession has become the longing of my heart, and I’m inspired by what I heard in the speaker's heart. I want to overflow with gratitude for God’s forgiveness as she did, and I’m ready to develop a habit of examining my own heart before the Lord, not just discussing my struggles and failures with friends for accountability. So you can now understand my delight when I read these words of prayer, the very cry of my own heart, in the little green book today:
O God, my God, abide with me throughout the whole course of this day, and so support my weakness that, when evening comes, although none may be justified in Thy sight, I be not altogether ashamed to render unto Thee an accounting. And do Thou, in Thy mercy, pardon whatsoever shall be amiss in thought, word, or deed. Then, O Lord, let me not be blind to my sins, but discover them to me, that I may sorrow unto life and sleep not unto spiritual death; and to Thee shall be honor and praise forever. Amen.
I read it silently and then aloud in the stillness of the morning hours, so many aspects of this prayer resonating with my soul:
Abide with me.
Support my weakness,
Render unto Thee an accounting.
Amiss in thought, word, or deed.
Let me not be blind.
Discover them to me…that I sleep not unto spiritual death.
Honor and praise forever.