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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Prayer II

In an earlier post I shared that I believe unforgiveness is one reason our prayers are hindered. Here, I want to share a second reason.

Though the Lord promises that whatever we ask for in prayer will be given us, this doesn't always fit our reality. Why is that? Well in addition to unforgiveness, I have found another reason: failure to confess our sin. Confession. It's actually an important element in God answering our prayers. It's not a matter of being perfect before God in our flesh; it's a matter of confessing our imperfection, our sin, and our heart before Him—then trusting in His cleansing.

When we first believed in the Jesus, all our sins were forgiven. Yet God asks us to continually cleanse our lives from sin through confession. We've all heard, "If you confess your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That means we are only one moment away from being totally clean before God. Confess. That's what He calls us to do when we sin in word, thought, and deed.

Long ago I was reading the story of how Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, and I was suddenly struck by something Jesus said during a conversation with Peter. Here is the conversation in John 13:6-10.

Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?" Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." "No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." "Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!" Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean."

When I read this I pondered the last sentence spoken by our Lord. What I believe Jesus meant was that because Peter believed in Him, he already had the cleansing that came with salvation. But if we want to walk with Jesus and take part in all He has procured for us on this earth and in this life—if we want to take part in what Jesus is doing and be a part of His work on earth—we must get the dirt off our feet.

Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

We walk in a world that is continually drawing us away from the narrow path. Off we traipse onto dirty paths that cover our feet in filth. Yet ours are the feet of the righteous. That’s what we’ve been given. Why allow dirt to hinder our walk? Why allow it when we are only a few steps away from being clean again?

Even after the amazing cleansing that comes with salvation, we must allow the Lord to cleanse the dirt from our feet as we walk through this dusty world. If we don't let Him do this cleansing, then we miss out. I believe part of that missing out includes hindered prayers.

James tells us, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

Who is righteous? The one who has been cleansed of all unrighteousness. Who has been cleansed of all unrighteousness? He who has confessed his sins to God, the One who is faithful and just to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

Yes, He is faithful and just to wash off our feet, to wash off the dirt we tracked in this day...this week...this month...this year...this decade.

Once we are cleansed of unrighteousness, we stand before Him as righteous; and we are promised that our prayers will be powerful and effective.
 

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy. Jude 1:24


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