Prayer of Confession
As a people we are in a constant pursuit of holiness. Of truly building our lives upon God’s love. Of actually putting our trust in Him alone. And as we do so, we often approach painful topics that we must address in our lives. This morning as we approach the topic of self righteousness and judgment, we want to acknowledge that we are in a safe space to do this deep work. We are in a room full of people who have lived without the grace of God but who are now on an ever deepening journey of understanding and appropriating that grace. If someone else has popped into your head as I mention the topic of self righteousness, I’ll caution you by saying that this prayer could likely be more for you than it is for that person. This prayer is for the Pharisee who is overly pious - the person who thinks they understand God so well that they know better than the rest of the world. But this prayer is also for the person cowering in the corner who doesn’t believe they are good enough for the work or life God has called them to - the one who thinks they know themselves so well that they know better than God. Both lives are expressions of the same ugly root of self righteousness. As we pray let us open our hands. In this, we are saying “Lord, we release ourselves to you, we release our need to act as judge over ourselves and others.” We are also saying, “Lord, we receive your grace, fill us with your goodness that we may dispense your charity.”
Father....first, we take a deep breath and ask that you would expose the parts of us that have long lurked in darkness. We ask for a deep knowing that it’s not too late to truly know your grace. We ask for honesty here.
Lord, Forgive us for stepping into judgment when it feels like we’ve done all the hard work that no one else is willing to do. When we are unteachable and unwilling to see our own problems, but feel as though we have answers to all the world’s problems, for thinking that the broken relationships in our lives will be fixed only when the other person finds healing. Forgive us, Lord, for when we feel like you owe us.
Forgive us for the moments when we parade our good works in order to be known, for loving the praise and approval of man, and for measuring our supposed graciousness against that of others. Forgive us for the times that we think we deserve even a shred credit for the work that your Spirit is doing through us and for the times our desire to be seen as good and right trumps our willingness to expose our brokenness.
May we know your eternal kindness that leads your people to repentance.
WE PRAY, LORD HAVE MERCY, CHRIST HAVE MERCY
Forgive us for the moments we deny to walk forward in our calling, seized by fear of failure, and fear of being exposed.
Forgive us for not trusting the truth that you, God of all creation, have spoken over us and for not walking in the confidence that your sacrificial death afforded us.
Forgive us for resenting others when they don’t meet our unexpressed needs.
Forgive us for the moments that we forget that we are all wounded healers.
WE PRAY, LORD HAVE MERCY, CHRIST HAVE MERCY.
As we recognize that self righteousness, in all its various forms, often comes from a lack of connection somewhere in our lives we ask you, God, to grant us reconnection. Remind us that we have much to receive and much to give. Remind us that those exchanges happen not only between you and us, but also between us and the rest of the world - that often the ones we can learn the most from are the ones we most easily scrutinize.
We acknowledge together now, Lord, that it is your goodness that leads us forth in the daily work of sanctification. It is your sacrifice that pours God’s righteousness over us to cover our self righteousness.
Prayers of the People
Father, as we continue to worship you in today's service, may you begin to bring awareness to us in areas of our lives and hearts where we harbor judgemental attitudes, and critical mindsets towards one another other. We ask this morning that your Holy Spirit would reveal to us where we criticize and how we judge one another. God we ask that you would make this prayer liveable for us. That we would not simply think in terms of judgment in the conceptual and abstract sense, but we ask that you would make this effort practical.
Father, we ask that you would show us how we judge and criticize from the way people talk and the words they use or don’t use, to the food they eat or don’t eat, to where people live or don’t live. To the size of someone’s home whether it be a beautiful home in an affluent area or a studio apartment in a poor area. Teach us to embrace our differences and perspectives with respect, compassion, and consideration for the other.
Father, work in our hearts in areas where we practice moral elitism disguised as Christianity. We can so easily look down and criticize the mother who drives a beat up car, who feeds her children fast food, and who lives on the poor side of the tracks with a “bless their heart” mentality, while on the other hand taking great pride in judging the lifestyles of the wealthy for the cars they drive the homes they own, and for their lavish lifestyles when so many people around the world suffer.Father help, us to understand that know matter where we come from, we all come to you the same way, and we are all in need of your loving touch
Father we pray that you would rid us of one of one of the most insidious 4 letter words in the dictionary, “them”. For we know that as long as we insulate ourselves, and separate, we reinforce a narrative of division, which leads to criticism, and ultimately judgement. Rather, help us turn our “them” attitudes to “us” attitudes. Realizing that we are all in this together, and that we belong to each other.
May our dinner tables express that, May our lunches express that. That we would not just seek community with people who exclusively look like us, vote like us, and speak like us, but help us reach, and then reach again to become bridge builders for the gospel in the greater Los angeles Area.
So Lord, we lament for the places in which we have fallen short in this area, while also humbly asking that you would teach us how to lead, and bravely step out to help create a gospel centered culture of compassion and kinship.