Do you feel yourself spiritually and physically weak today?

The prophet Isaiah describes people like us:
Bruised reeds and smoldering wicks.

Listen to how our Savior deals with people like us:
“A bruised reed he will not break, 
and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory…” (Matthew 12:20)

What are we to understand by the bruised reed and smoldering wick ?

This language is no doubt figurative.
What is it that these two expressions mean?
The simplest explanation seems to be,
that the Holy Spirit is here describing persons
whose grace is at present weak, whose repentance is feeble,
and whose faith is small. Towards such persons the Lord Jesus Christ will be very tender and compassionate.
Weak as the bruised reed is, it shall not be broken;
small as the spark of fire may be within the smoldering wick,
it shall not be quenched.
– J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Down in the human heart, Crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried, That grace can restore,
Touched by a loving heart, Wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken, Will vibrate once more.
– Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)

Jesus Christ the King does not merely tolerate weak believers,
but He is drawn to them, showing them special tenderness and compassion
in order to further them in sanctification.
– Richard Sibbes (1577 – 1635)

Why not take a few moments to cherish the special tenderness and compassion
of our Savior today by reflecting on the below prayer and making it your own!

God, our heavenly Father,
we are those who have been bruised and broken by sin and the fall.
We confess that we have bruised others
by our harsh and critical words,
our anger tempers, our betrayals,
and our failed attempts at loving others well.
The devil bruises us with his lies.
We also are bruised by others.
Thank you for dealing tenderly with “bruised reeds” and “smoldering wicks.”
We confess to you that our grasp of your grace is weak,
our repentance is feeble, and our faith is small.
Thank you Jesus that you were wounded for our transgressions
and you were bruised for our iniquities.
Pour out the healing balm of your grace
into our lives we pray for Jesus’ sake. Amen

Prayer of Confession – Romans 8

Holy and gracious Father,
the highest court in the universe
has declared us completely forgiven, totally accepted and forever loved!”
Yet when we find ourselves
in a cauldron of adversity and difficulty, we easily succumb to despair
and our minds are seduced into believing the lie
that you really don’t care about us.
Forgive us for the ways that
we doubt Your goodness and provision.
We ask your pardon for not living in the security of Your love.
A cross was raised to demonstrate
how deeply You love us.
We confess that listening to other voices has resulted
in our spiritual undoing.
The Law scolds us reminding us of how unworthy we are of Your love.
Our past and present sin screams of our frequent failures in loving You.
Death thunders at us and threatens to cut us off from your love.
The devil deceptively roars at us saying
‘You are angry at us and will destroy us.’
But in the midst of these confusing voices,
the Spirit of Your Son cries in our hearts:
“We are more than conquerors
through Jesus who loves us.”
Give us grace to hear His voice once again… AMEN.

Prayer of Confession of Sin

Before the practice of  confessing our sins to God in worship fell out of favor and practice in the church, God’s people regularly used the ten commandments as a guide for their time of confession. Here is a simple prayer that guides you through the second table of the law of God found in Exodus 20:12-17 or Deuteronomy 5:16-21.

God, our heavenly Father, we beseech Your mercy and forgiveness…

  • For not making every effort to show our family, friends and especially our parents, all the love, consideration and respect that we can.
  • For thinking unkindly of others and harboring ill-will and bitterness in our hearts towards them.
  • For allowed our eyes to wander and our minds to indulge in desires for intimacy with those to whom we are not married.
  • For taking time, services, money, and goods from others to which we have no right.
  • For causing offense by hurtful words said and helpful words unsaid and for not pursuing a lifestyle of radical honesty.
  • And for not contentedly loving and serving You in the station in which You have placed us in Your good providence.

Thank you that Jesus our Savior perfectly obeyed you for us, and He died a sacrificial death to pay the debt of our disobedience. Now, empower us by Your Spirit so that we delight to do what You command. For we make our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, AMEN.

 

Physical Beauty – Reflections, Confession, and Forgiveness

Reflections

How do we celebrate beauty without lapsing into either pantheism or cynicism? This will take serious imagination, imagination fueled by reflection and prayer at the foot of the cross and before the empty tomb, imagination that will discern the mysteries of God’s judgment on evil and God’s reaffirmation through resurrection of his beautiful creation.
— N.T. Wright, Simply Christian

The Song of Solomon affirms the longing we have to be beautiful. With a lover’s eye for every feature, the poet describes the bride’s hair, teeth, temples, eyes, cheeks, neck, lips and [other more intimate parts]. The bridegroom’s features and strength receives similar praise. We may allegorize the Song, but why would God describe his bride in such blatantly physical and erotic terms if he did not rejoice in the physical beauty of His handiwork? God intended us to be as beautiful as this bride, and at the consummation of all things he will restore to us a beauty beyond what even poetry can hint at.
— Karen Lee-Thorp, “Is Beauty the Beast?”

“I am a woman who needs to be seen. I need it in a basic way, as in to breath, to eat…There is nothing like the mystery of an absent father to addict you to the loving gaze of men.”
— Nancy Friday, The Power of Beauty

Prayer of Confession of Sin

Beautiful Savior, You died to make me beautiful
one who was marred and made beastly by sin.
Late it was that I loved you,
beauty so ancient and so new, late I loved you!
Thus, I vacillate between
a monkish contempt of physical beauty
and a worldly addiction to physical beauty.
Unlike the patriarch Job,
some of us have made a covenant with our eyes
and we still gaze lustfully at others with whom we are not married.
Forgive us O LORD!
Most of us compare ourselves to others
and feel insecure, ashamed, and envious.
Have mercy upon us O LORD!
Some of us have a disdain for our bodies
that You knit together and fashioned.
Liberate us from such bondage O LORD!
Many of us have grown up lacking
that precious sense that we are beautiful
in the eyes of at least one loving beholder.
Give us a sense of Your delight, acceptance, and favor
through Jesus Christ our LORD. AMEN.

Declaration of Forgiveness         Isaiah 62:2,5

You will be a crown of beauty in the LORD’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God…
for the LORD will take delight in you…
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.

Prayer of Supplication and Confession – Easter Sunday

O Mighty Father, the tomb calls forth my adoring wonder,
for it is empty and Christ is risen!
Grant me to be crucified with Christ
that I may live a new life,
for I wish to be dead and buried to sin,
to selfishness, to the world;
that I might not hear the voice of the charmer and be seduced by his lusts.
Purge me from selfishness, pride, the fear of man,
and the desire to be highly esteemed by others.
Grant me to stand with my dying Savior,
to be content to be rejected, and to be willing to hold to unpopular truths.
Grant me more and more of His resurrection life:
may it rule me, may I walk in its power,
and be strengthened through its influence,
through Jesus Christ my resurrected and ascended Lord! Amen.

Good Friday – A Prayer of Confession of Sin

Merciful Father,

we meet each other today at the foot of the cross.

We wait with each other as those who inflict wounds on one another:         

         Have mercy on us.

As those who spurn Your love for other loves: 

         Be merciful to us.

As those who put our trust in power and prestige:

         Be merciful to us.

As those who pursue only our own personal interests:

         Be merciful to us.

As those who put others on trial:

         Be merciful to us.

As those who refuse to forgive:

         Be merciful to us. 

As those who are afraid of the world’s frown and displeasure:

         Be merciful to us.

We pray for the sake of your dear Son who died to grant us mercy, Amen. 

Unburdening Our Hearts with the Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. . . .
[Let us confess the ways that we have been infatuated with making our name great rather than our Father’s]

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. . . .
[Let us confess the ways that we have pursued our kingdom and our wills more than God’s]

Give us this day our daily bread. . . .
[Let us confess all of our ways of self-sufficiency and acknowledge our dependence]

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. . . .
[Let us confess the ways that we have not pursued forgiveness and interpersonal reconciliation]

And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. . . .
[Let us confess our own personal struggles with temptation and evil]

For the kingdom and the power and the glory are yours forever. Amen.
[Let us confess the ways that we look to others things other than our King for satisfaction, beauty and worth]

—based on Matthew 6:9-13