Confess: Acknowledge or Admit

 

 

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
(John 15:4-5 NKJV)
 

I confess that prayer can be ambiguous for me at times. I have read books on the topic. I was trained through an excellent ministry to pray through four steps: Praise, Confess, Give Thanks, and Intercede. The question has been posed to me whether it is more important to praise or confess sin as a starting point in prayer. I don’t really know the answer, but the question intrigues me.

For the month of July, I will be exploring the above question and others like it. I will share thoughts from others who have explored prayer personally, as well as offer written prayers from various sources and then end each post with a question to contemplate.

In Elizabeth Basset’s anthology, Love is My Meaning, she has collected several prayers and teachings on prayer in one volume. I found her book through another anthology on prayer by Jonathan Aitken titled Prayers for People Under Pressure. I will lean heavily on their works to add flavor to the offerings here this month.

In Love is My Meaning, Basset offers this teaching on prayer from C. R. Bryant, S.S.J.E. (The Bible and Meditation):

“The act of faith is more than a bare statement of belief; it is a turning to face the living God. Perhaps the simplest way to make it is to address God as present, telling Him what you believe about Him: “Lord God, you made us, you know us, you love us; you are in me, sustaining me, guiding me, correcting me.” The prayer of adoration is an act of faith of a special kind, in which we declare the infinite greatness of God and our own nothingness by comparison. As there can be no genuine prayer without faith, the act of faith which begins prayer underlies all the prayer which follows.”

Bryant offers us the same dilemma; does our confession of God’s greatness follow our declaration of nothingness or vice versa? My experience has been that these two acts of faith, adoration and confession go hand in hand.

St. Augustine, in his autobiography, Confessions, penned this beautiful prayer of adoration:

“O God, my joy, my glory and my confidence. Highest, best, most mighty; most far and yet most near; fairest and yet strongest; fixed yet incomprehensible; unchanging yet the author of all change; never new, ever old; O Lord, I love thee!”

The paradox of God’s character can confuse us; however the infinite beauty of God causes one true response. When we allow ourselves the leisure to bask in His intricate personality, we find that the only thing we can confess is “O Lord, I love thee!”
 
 
Which confession are you most
likely to make first:
 
“I am nothing.”
or
“God is everything!”
 

Linking up with Soli Deo Gloria Party

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Confess: Acknowledge or Admit

  1. Wow. I mean, wow. I am really interested in exploring this topic of prayer with you. For so long, I felt paralyzed by fear of praying the wrong way. Now, I am much more free and feel under grace, which allows me to return to questions such as these. Can't wait!! Subscribing now.

  2. i sit in awe of your words…such depth yet so simple. thank you for the quote for the questions. I think I start with "You Lord are everything and thank you for making me more than nothing." Praying for your prayer journey! Visiting from SDG

  3. Jen-It is so nice to know that we are all learning together what God really means by "prayer" …His grace leads us into his presence where everything great and small washes away

  4. Good to see you, Jody! I am excited to link up with you and the other SDG folks to see what God is revealing to each of us this summer…it's nice to be back…I enjoyed Ant Kamp, but am looking forward to this series with God and also revealing soon the new initiative He has been dreaming up for me to launch later this month here in St. Louie!

  5. Karrie- I love how you give God credit here…yes thank God for making us more than nothing! Hallelujah! I have experienced both a sense of awe confessing God's greatness which leads to confession of sin and my smallness to confessing my sin, which leads to praising God for his great love and forgiveness!

  6. Kel, Karrie said it so well — you are able to express such mighty thoughts and questions in a simple way that really is touching and thought provoking. Today was my daily time to sit for an hour alone in God's presence in a quiet church. Without having read this, or even thinking about it on my own, I now realize that I began by thanking Him for letting me be there, and then praised him. That did lead me to confess my weaknesses to Him, and my need for His forgiveness and for a deeper awareness of His constant presence with me.Some time ago someone shared with me the word ACTS, which stands for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. It was offered as a "formula" for prayer. Before then, I fear I may have always left the Adoration till last — and it may have occasionally gotten "lost" when I got stuck in the Supplication mode. Right now I'm trying to concentrate on St. Teresa, "The Little Flower". She said that we should offer everything we do as a little prayer to God. I need to offer so much "catching up" of housework. I never seem to get it all done, and I leave things half-finished in a rush to just get it to look good. My Goodness! If I could only remember to offer it as prayer when I'm finding reasons to shirk — it would be a regular paean unlike anything ever before heard in Heaven.

  7. Hm. (In reply to your question: ) Can we really separate the one from the other? As my times of communion with Him have deepened, the two seem to wind ever more and more inextricably around one another. If we need to boil it down to steps, maybe the important thing is just to begin, with one or the other, yet neglect neither, and find them winding around one another, and growing and glowing together. The more intently we look at Him, the smaller and more dependent on Him we recognize ourselves to be (till we may even disappear from view entirely), yet on the other hand, the more we see our smallness, weakness, spiritual and moral destitution in ourselves, the more heartily we will stretch out our hands in supplication for Him to be all for us that we aren't.In my days, in the last few years, I have aimed to (and prayed to Him to) "let my first thoughts be of Thee" and not myself. But chronologically in my life, I had to first be brought to the end of myself, to recognize my utter inadequacies and hopelessness on my own, to even come to know and acknowledge Him as Who He is. And now when I think about what I just wrote to start this paragraph, I realize my quoted prayer about my daily first thoughts acknowledges in its very request my need for His enablement in them, too. So is it a "which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" kind of question? Perhaps. But a good means to ponder the richness of His grace and our continual need of it.

  8. Jeanette- I love that you make time to sit in the presence of our Lord…it is a rich experience and I see how being with him lead you through various expressions of your relationship with each other…The idea of our actions being a prayer to God is refreshing…thanks for pointing us to the practice of St. Teresa, "The Little Flower"

  9. Sylvia- Thanks for returning to answer the question. Your answer enlarges my perspective and I see the entwining of the two as you so eloquently express. Thanks for pondering with us and I appreciate your morning prayer: "Let my first thoughts be of Thee" Now I have something to ponder 🙂

I love a dialogue. Be the first to start a discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s