I’ve noticed a trend in the way people – including me – pray: we spend a lot of time praising God and asking for his counsel and intervention (which is good), but not so much confessing our sins (which is bad). I think there are a couple of reasons. First, we’re embarrassed by our shortcomings and don’t like to admit when we’re wrong. No big surprise, there. Secondly, though – and this is something that can really undermine our repentance – we don’t understand our sins.
In Hebrew, there are several words for sin, each with its own distinct meaning. There are unintentional failings, bad habits that have become so commonplace the sinner doesn’t even consider whether they’re right or wrong, and intentional acts of wrongdoing performed out of rebelliousness. How often, though, have you heard or prayed a prayer that closes with a non-committal and totally uninspired “and God, please forgive us where we’ve failed you, amen”?
When you pray that way, do you even take the time to consider where you’ve actually failed God?
Do you stop to consider what your motivations were when you sinned?
Do you make plans to get your heart right and not make the same mistake again?
Do you ask God to help you overcome sin in the future, in addition to forgiving you for sins in the past?
Personal growth requires self-reflection. You have to identify bad habits before you can break them, and strengths before you rely on them. Painful as it is, you need to be honest about your motives if you ever hope to change them.
I pray God’ll give me a greater understanding of my failings so that one day I can overcome them. I pray I’ll have the humility and strength to admit the selfish motives behind my sins and then become the servant to others I know I should be.
I pray the same for you.