Confessions and Pleas
O God, my Father, how often I dishonor you by supposing that I may find joy and contentment in the world, apart from you!
Show me again the field where lies hidden the treasure of immense worth. Counsel me to trade all my worthless baubles for the matchless pearl of great price. Bring to my mind the rust and moths and subtle thieves who steal away all earthly delights. Lead me to Christ, my eternal treasure!
Father, how idly I pass away my time, how quickly I am content to cease my labors and pamper my soul in luxury and ease!
Show me, my Father, how great a privilege it is to labor for the One who gave his life for me. Instruct me that I am a steward, granted so many hours and days to serve my gracious master. Impress upon my shallow heart how shamed and sorry I will be if my Lord should come and find me sleeping. Teach me the gravity and import of my task, and how fitting and eternally profitable it will be for me to engage myself in no other business.
But God, even when I labor, my heart is so often far from work. Surely such passionless toil cannot be pleasing to you, who would have my heart and soul, and who need nothing that I could ever give.
Ah God, grant that I should never forsake my duty because my heart is heavy. You require my affections and my duties. Surely, because the one is left undone, I should not forsake the other. Give me instead the affections that I am missing. Give me perseverance even in the midst of soul-sick, sinful dullness of heart. And O, my God, restore again the joy of my salvation as you lead me on through discouragement!
Father, how little of your love resides within my heart. You gave your Son to bring eternal life to the world of sinful men. But I, ah, I cannot even give my time, my energies, myself for the good of my brothers. I selfishly squander all my goods on my own needs and pleasures. Surely, this is evil in your sight!
O God, to see Christ is to be like him. Show me my Savior! Show me his love! Show him to me, hanging on the cross for my sins! Teach me to meditate long and deeply on his love. Fill up my heart with his grace, and let it overflow to those around me. If there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, let me esteem all others better than myself, and spend my life for them in true and energetic love.
My God, how I tremble to confess it, but even my love for my Savior grows cold at times!
But God, did I teach myself to love him in the first place? Did I open my own eyes to his surpassing worth? No, my Father, the eyes of faith, which delight to gaze upon the beauty of holiness in the face of Jesus Christ, can only be opened by you. Oh God, who spoke light into darkness, speak again into my heart the light of the knowledge of your own glory in my precious Saviorâ€™s face! For I know that, to see him as he is, is to love him.
And Father, how shall I say it? Even you seem sometimes far and distant. I doubt your love, and I fear your rod. I see in it no fatherly love but stern and terrible wrath, and I am afraid to flee into your bosom.
O God, teach me of your faithfulness and unfailing love! Remind me of your eternal mercies, never withheld from your stiff-necked people. Let me know that your chastisement is fatherly love, and shows that I am your son. And if your son, O God, then never a castaway! Remind me that even I, who am evil, could never cease to love and care for my own son â€“ and how much less could you, who are forever good? Sooner would a nursing mother forget her suckling babe! Ah my Father, tell my heart that, however prodigal I be, you will always run to meet me with your finest raiments! You will always kill the fatted calf for me!
But Father, I fear lest, in my security I should become complacent. Ah how often do I despise your grace, and use it as a cloak of maliciousness! I make little effort to avoid evil, for I trust that your grace will abound. Your grace overcomes and bears away iniquity, but I use it to cause sin to spring up all the more!
Teach me, O Father, that you are a consuming fire, that your eyes are too pure to behold evil. Instruct me that you desire truth and righteousness in the inward parts. Advise me that, by your grace I died to sin, and how shall I live any longer in it? Show me, my God, that true grace is to be freed from sinâ€™s tyranny, not to be at ease in its harsh and horrid grasp! Cause me to see myself crucified with my Savior, and raised up again to new life in him. O God, take my members as instruments for righteousness, which were only used for wickedness before I knew my Savior!
My Father, when I look within my heart and see how deep and black is its innate evil, when I call to mind my thousand lusts and shameful desires, when I see them warring in my soul and ah, my God, they seem to be growing stronger and not weaker, I fear that I may fall away from your grace, and leave my first love. I fear that I, who tasted the heavenly gift, will turn aside to eternal destruction!
Show me, O my Father, the work of grace that you have begun in my heart. Assure my weak soul that you will indeed complete it. Remind me of the graces which, although few and faltering, I have already seen at work in my heart. The love for Christ, when before I hated him. The hatred of sin, when before I loved it. The desire to see you, my Father, glorified, when before I thought only of my glory. Remind me, O my God, that I did not begin this transformation of grace, but that you did it, overwhelmingly drawing me to yourself, gently and mightily overcoming all my resistance. And burn within my soul the truth of your character, that you cannot deny yourself, that you will not leave undone what you have started!
Alas, my God! For even these confessions are shot through with many weak and impure motives.
My God, show me my Savior, submitting to Johnâ€™s baptism of repentance on the Jordan river. Let me see him perfectly keeping all your holy law. Let me see him lifted up as the curse it demanded, the curse he became for me! Teach me that I am not acceptable because of the quality of my own repentance, but because of the quality of Christâ€™s perfect obedience, and because of the sufficiency of his sacrifice of himself in my place. Bring me into his presence, as he sits at your right hand and pleads for me. Oh, let me approach your throne with boldness, and know that, for his sake, I will obtain from you the grace I need to bring me safely home.
O God, you are my Father because Christ was my Savior! Show me my Savior, living, dying, rising, and coming again in glory. Bring me, ah my Father, home to be with you. Reserve for me a place in that heavenly city where the Lamb is the light, and where sorrow and sin are banished, for you are there. O God, hear my pleas, and rain down your grace as I press into your heavenly Kingdom!