“Heart-work is hard work indeed. To shuffle over religious duties with a loose and careless spirit, will cost no great difficulties; but to set yourself before the Lord, and to tie up your loose and vain thoughts to a constant and serious attendance upon him: this will cost you something.
To attain ease and dexterity of language in prayer and to be able to put your meaning into appropriate and fitting expressions is easy; but to get your heart broken for sin while you are actually confessing it; melted with free grace even while you are blessing God for it; to be really ashamed and humbled through the awareness of God’s infinite holiness, and to keep your heart in this state not only in, but after these duties, will surely cost you some groans and travailing pain of soul.”– JOHN FLAVEL
This is something I certainly struggle with. Yes I can confess my sins, but do I really give thought to what I have done? I’ve sinned against an infinitely holy God. More than that I’ve dishonoured the one who died for me, who loved me before I even knew his name, who made a covenant with me and promised me eternal life. Yet the words all too often ring hollow on my lips, “forgive us our debts.” My debt is infinite and yet it seems I can’t even utter a heartfelt prayer. Surely this is what John Donne meant when he wrote ‘My heart was broken to think it would not break.’
How humbling it is to realize that my prayers do not merit me anything in God’s sight. That God hears my prayers is yet another gift of grace.
Thanks be to God that he has given us an intercessor, that the Spirit would perfect our prayers!
My faith doth lay its hand
On that dear head of thine,
While, like a penitent, I stand
And there confess my sin.