Prayer on the Move. Day ten...
What does it look like to live knowing that Jesus has completed every provision for us on the Cross? What does it look like to live knowing that Jesus has taken care of everything standing between us and God?
It looks like prayer… the kind of prayer that never stops… to “pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV).” It looks like the kind of prayer that's more about relationship than requests. It looks like the kind of prayer that understands what God has already done… and has the confidence not to ask Him to do it again.
When something needs to happen in your life that is bigger that your mental or physical ability to get it done, you need prayer. You don't need prayer to set your alarm (you may, however, need prayer to get up when it goes off). You don't need prayer to eat breakfast (unless you have no food). You don't need prayer to get to work (unless have no job). But whenever your need exceeds your ability, you need prayer.
I have learned the hard way, however, that it is good to look around and make sure what I am praying for is not sitting unnoticed, right in front of me. I am not talking about looking around with my physical eyes though. I am talking about looking around through the Bible with a different set of eyes—spiritual eyes. Let me illustrate:
He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, [our] faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He [was] wounded for our transgressions, [He was] bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace [was] upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:2a–5 NKJV)
Everything was fixed on the Cross. This act of love, by Jesus toward us, completed the list of resources necessary to fix everything in our lives that is missing, broken, or out of place. And while it takes an entire Bible to list all of the resources God has put in place for our benefit, the big ones are listed here in this passage from Isaiah:
- The provision for forgiveness.
- The provision for peace.
- The provision for healing.
No statistics are available of course, but I wonder if “Please forgive me,” doesn't sit in the top spot for “most common prayer.” When someone needs forgiveness, where is it anyway?
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…. (1 Peter 3:18 ESV)
Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. (Hebrews 7:27 NIV)
For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. (Romans 6:10 ESV)
As you can see from these verses, every time someone prays, “Please forgive me,” Jesus does not crawl back up on the Cross and die for that person all over again. No… Jesus died one time. And at that one time, Jesus took care of the sins for all time—past, present, and future—and for all people.
So where is forgiveness located? It's not somewhere in Heaven. It's not somewhere on the earth. It's located in the “asking.” Or better stated, it's located in the “confessing.”
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV )
It's located in the admission, the declaration, the agreement with God… our statement to God that we have a sin problem and He is the only one who can fix it.
Do you see how this simple realization can change the way you pray for forgiveness? Once you agree with God that you have a sin problem and need a remedy, God's forgiveness manifests itself in your confession—once and for all time. The cleansing referred to in 1 John 1:9 is like the flow from a faucet that is never shut off. It's not a one‐time event, but a continual cleansing.
After we have made that initial confession of our sin, it is no longer necessary to pray for forgiveness when we mess up (at least as far as God is concerned). All we need to do is face (or own up to) any weakness, and stick it under that continual flow of forgiveness. We don't have to ask God to do this for us; we have the responsibility of doing it ourselves. (I am no longer a child, so I don't have to keep asking my mother to give me a bath. When I get dirty, I take my own bath.) I know this makes me sound like a heretic, but please stay with me.
Take a look at Hebrews 10:1–14. Under the old covenant we continually made sacrifices because we continually lived with a consciousness of sin. But under the new covenant, those of us who are born again have been perfected by the blood of Jesus, and have no good reason to live with a guilty conscience.
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14 ESV)
Are you beginning to see how your prayer life would change with just the simple understanding that the provision for your forgiveness has been supplied once and for all time? Instead of tip‐toeing through life at a snail's pace for fear of messing up, you can dive right in—knowing you are already forgiven for any mess you might make.
Obviously, it is important to avoid sin. And I'm not saying to live a sloppy life with no thought about how much of a mess you make. I am, however, promoting a life that concentrates on taking risks with God rather than a life with a continual focus on avoiding mistakes. Living life with a God‐consciousness is far more productive than living a life with a sin‐consciousness.
So go about your business (God's business for you to complete) with no worry about getting dirty. If you mess up and spill something on yourself, just get under the flow of forgiveness and wash it away.
Have a good weekend,