Have you ever considered that the exact cause might just be your own unconfessed sin before God? Sometimes, we get in such an easy habit of beginning or ending our prayers with a blanket “forgive us our sins,” that we forget the awesome power that can be gained from picking apart our sins before God. He knows what they are already, of course. But do we?
I started thinking about how not getting specific with God gets me stuck in the mire as I have been reading the Psalms. In these wonderful poetic prayers, the various authors pour out their sentiments to God in imagery, metaphor, and splendid detail. The more I read these prayers, the more I am struck by how helpful it is to be specific when you are talking to God.
In a world where there is often 26 hours of things to do in each 24 hour day, we often let getting specific fall between the cracks of all the materialistic things we have convinced ourselves need to be done for our existence not to fall apart. But God has all the time in the world to listen to us, no matter how long we speak. So should we.
In Psalm 32, David gives an apt description of what it feels like to be trapped in our sins: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your [God’s] hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’–and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (3-5).
David, who lived in a time without the guarantee of Jesus as intecessor, had many reasons to hide his sin from God, even though God already knew the sin. Essentially, by not confessing to God, David was only denying the truth to himself, and this denial effectively shut him off from God! How much simpler it should be for those of us who have the Great Intecessor to go freely to God to admit to ourselves the sins we have committed against Him. After all, we have all assurance through the grace of Christ that God will forgive us, whereas David did not.
Are your bones wasting away? It shouldn’t be that way for those who believe. “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered,” David begins the psalm (32:1). “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (32:2). The person David is describing is every Christian. We all have the right through grace to claim this state of being.
But we have to be honest with ourselves. There is no lying to God, of course, though we say those lies anyway, the things we want to believe about ourselves even though the tiny voice at the back of our mind is telling us we are wrong. Oh, to be the spirit with no deceit before the Father!
What we lose when we don’t confess our specific sins is the chance to grab what David prized most in his relationship with God, and that is the ability to feel the full joy of God, to grasp God’s righteousness, and to praise Him in full understanding of the depth and breadth of God’s goodness. David finishes Psalms 32 with just such a declaration: “Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” (11).
There is no way to get there without first stripping ourselves bare before the One who already knows. By acknowledging to Him where we have fallen, we effectively admit it to ourselves, casting off the heavy hand upon us and freeing ourselves to truly rejoice!