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Seven Prayers that will change your life forever
By Stormie Omartian
Copyright © 2010 Stormie Omartian
All right reserved.
Chapter One The Prayer of Confession
The word sin is an old archery term, meaning to miss the bull's-eye. Anything other than dead center is sin. So sin in our lives doesn't mean robbing a liquor store, murdering someone, or playing cards on Sunday. It's much more than that. In fact, anything off the center of God's best and perfect will for our lives is sin. That takes in a lot of territory!
When sin is not confessed, it becomes a subtle growth-wrapping its tentacles around every part of our beings until we are paralyzed. The agony of its weight is accurately described in the Bible by King David:
When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. -Psalm 32:3-5
When sin is left unconfessed, a wall goes up between you and God. Even though the sin may have stopped, if it hasn't been confessed before the Lord, it will still weigh you down, dragging you back toward the past you are trying to leave behind. I know because I used to carry around a bag of failures on my back that was so heavy I could barely move. I didn't realize how spiritually stooped over I had become. When I finally confessed my sins, I actually felt the weight being lifted.
All of us with deep emotional wounds from the past already suffer from low self-esteem, fear, and guilt. We mentally beat up on ourselves, tend to think the worst about our situations, and feel responsible for everything that goes wrong. It's true we can have times of feeling guilty for things we have done, but we don't have to be tortured by living endlessly in guilt. God provided the key to release us from that: the prayer of confession.
Often we fail to see ourselves as responsible for certain actions. For example, while it's not your fault that someone abused you, your reaction to it now is your responsibility. You may feel justified in your anger or bitterness, but you must still confess it because it misses the mark of what God has for you. If you don't, its weight will eventually crush you.
The Prayer of Confession and Repentance
For confession to work, repentance must go along with it. Repentance literally means a change of mind. It means to turn your back, walk away, and decide not to do it again. It means getting your thinking aligned correctly with God. It's possible to confess without ever really conceding any fault at all. In fact, we can become simply good apologizers with no intent of being any other way. Confession and repentance mean saying, "This is my fault. I'm sorry about it, and I'm not going to do it anymore."
All sin has to be confessed and repented of for you to be free of bondage, whether you feel bad about it or not and whether you recognize it as sin or not. One day in my Christian counselor's office, I confessed in prayer the two abortions I'd had even though I still had no concept at the time how wrong abortion was. I had always viewed abortion as a means of survival, not as a sin, but that did not make it right in God's eyes. I had read in the Bible about the value of life in the womb. I also read, "My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent" (1 Corinthians 4:4 NIV). I was not free from the death grip of the guilt over those abortions until I repented and received God's full forgiveness.
Every time you confess something, check to see if you honestly and truly do not want to do that anymore. And remember, God "knows the secrets of the heart" (Psalm 44:21). Being repentant doesn't necessarily mean you will never do it again, but it does mean you don't intend to do it again. If you find that you are committing the same sin over and over, you need to confess it each time. If you have committed a sin that you just confessed the day before, don't let that come between you and God. Confess it again. As long as you are truly repentant each time, you will be forgiven and eventually set free. The Bible says, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).
The devil has a hook in you wherever there is unconfessed sin. Repeated returns to the same sin are no excuse for not confessing. You must keep your life totally open before the Lord if you want to be delivered from the bondage of sin.
You can't be delivered from something you have not put out of your life. Confessing is speaking the whole truth about your sin. Renouncing is taking a firm stand against it and removing its right to stay. Because we are not perfect, confession and repentance are ongoing. There are always new levels of Jesus' life that need to be worked in us. We fall short of the glory of God in ways that we can't yet even imagine.
The Prayer of Confession Heals Your Heart
When you are building a foundation, you have to dig out the dirt. The trouble is, most of us don't go deep enough. While you can't see all your errors all the time, you can have a heart that is willing to be taught by the Lord. Ask God to bring to light sins you are not aware of so they can be confessed, repented of, and forgiven. Recognize that there is something to confess every day and pray frequently as David did:
See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:24) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10) Cleanse me from secret faults. (Psalm 19:12)
Sometimes when we don't think we have anything to confess, praying for God's revelation will reveal an unrepentant attitude, such as criticism of unforgiveness, that has taken root in the heart. Confessing it keeps us from having to pay the emotional, spiritual, and physical price for it. It will also benefit our social lives since the imperfections in our personalities that we can't see are often obvious to others.
Confession is really a way of life. If we're not walking God's way, if we're doing anything in disobedience-gossiping, lying, or speaking in a degrading manner to someone-we need to clear the slate, and that only comes with confession: God, I come before You and I confess my attitude toward my boss. I repent of that attitude. I want to become more like Christ every day.
Sometimes when my husband, Michael, would say something that hurt my feelings, I would react-and say something equally as offensive back. This only made the strife worse. I soon learned that before I apologized to Michael, I had to apologize to God. I would go before the Lord, and say, "God, I'm sorry for what I said. I know I was moving in the flesh and not the Spirit." I found that confessing to the Lord helped me to stop the behavior and be able to apologize to Michael with a better attitude.
Think about your own life. Has anything like that happened between you and another person? Do you have any attitude that you need to confess? If so, don't hesitate. The sooner you take care of it the better.
Sin leads to death; repentance leads to life. How much time passes between the sin and the repentance will account for how much death is reaped in your life. If you've reaped a lot of death, the problems don't go away immediately when you confess. But your confession has started the process of reversing what has taken place as a result of the sin.
Always keep in mind that God's ways are for your benefit. Confession is not for Him to find out something. God already knows. Confession is for you to be made whole. God is not standing over you, waiting to punish you for what you do wrong. He doesn't have to because the punishment is inherent in the sin. Because God knows this, He has given you the key of confession. People who confess find mercy and God's unlimited power.
Chapter Two The Prayer of Salvation
I've spent many years learning to understand what was accomplished when Jesus died on the cross, and it simply means that Jesus took all that I have coming to me-pain, sickness, failure, confusion, hatred, rejection, and death-and gave me all that He had coming to Him-all His wholeness, healing, love, acceptance, peace, joy, and life. Because of God's grace, we can pray the prayer of salvation. All we have to do is say, "Jesus come live in me and be Lord over my life."
In my early twenties my lifestyle was motivated by a desperate need for love. One disastrous by-product of this lifestyle was two abortions in less than two years. Both were ugly, frightening, and physically and emotionally traumatic (not to mention illegal at the time), yet I felt relief more than remorse about them. Only years later, after I began to walk with the Lord and learn of His ways, did I see what I had done.
When Michael and I decided to have a baby, month after month went by and I didn't get pregnant. I, who had gotten pregnant so easily before, thought surely I was being punished for the abortions.
"God, I know I don't deserve to give birth to new life after twice destroying life within me," I prayed. "But please have mercy and help me to conceive."
He answered that prayer, and my two children have been the greatest example of God's mercy and grace to me. He gave me exactly what I did not deserve.
The Prayer of Salvation Brings God's Mercy and Grace
God's grace is for those who live in His kingdom and whose kingdom lives in them. We can't receive His grace unless we receive Him. It's a gift that is with Him, in His hand.
Grace and mercy are much alike. Grace happens when God refrains from punishing a person who is guilty. Mercy is God's compassion for our misery beyond what may be expected. We need both.
If it weren't for God's grace and mercy, we wouldn't even be saved, for the Bible tells us, "by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:8) and "according to His mercy He saved us" (Titus 3:5). Before we met Jesus we were "guilty" and "miserable," but His "grace" and "mercy" have saved us.
Grace has to do with it all being Him. He does it. Not us. Grace is always a surprise. You think it's not going to happen, and it does.
The Prayer of Salvation Brings Entry into the Kingdom of God
Salvation is more than something Jesus did for us on the Cross of Calvary; it is Jesus living in us. You may have been born into a Christian family or have attended a Christian church all your life, but if you haven't prayed the prayer of salvation and told God that you want to receive Jesus as your Savior, you haven't been born into the kingdom of God. You can't inherit it; get it by osmosis, transplant, or implant; or wish upon a star for it. You have to declare your faith in Jesus Christ.
If you want Jesus' life in you, just say, "Jesus, I acknowledge You this day. I believe You are the Son of God, as You say You are. Although it's hard to comprehend love so great, I believe You laid down Your life for me so that I might have life eternally and abundantly now. I ask You to forgive me for not living Your way. I need You to help me become all You created me to be. Come into my life and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Let all the death in me be crowded out by the power of Your presence and this day turn my life into a new beginning."
If you don't feel comfortable with this prayer, then talk to Jesus as you would to a good friend, and confess you've made some mistakes. Tell Him you can't live without Him. Ask Him to forgive you and come into your heart. Tell Him you receive Him as Lord, and thank Him for His eternal life and forgiveness.
Once you have prayed the prayer of salvation, you are released from guilt, your future is secure, and you are saved from death in every part of your life.
The Prayer of Salvation Brings Freedom from Guilt
Everyone has some kind of guilt for mistakes of the past. Sometimes it's for things we know we've done, sometimes it's deep regret over what we fear we could have prevented, and sometimes it's for violation of certain natural laws we're not even aware of violating. Whatever the reason, the load of guilt sits on us with crushing weight, and unless it's eliminated it separates us from the fullness of life.
What can ever take our guilt away? Consider, for instance, the man who accidentally backed a car over his two-year-old daughter and killed her. Or the woman who took drugs when she was pregnant and gave birth to a brain-damaged child. What about the mother who accidentally shot and killed her teenage son when he came home late one night and she thought he was a robber? How do these people find freedom from guilt over such devastating and irreparable damage?
Or how do you and I live with painful regrets? "If only I'd ..." "If I just hadn't ..." These thoughts echo the agony of situations that can never be changed. It's done! And there's no way to live with the truth of it, unless you push it down deep and never allow yourself to feel it again. Don't talk about it. Don't bring it up. The trouble with that is you think you're getting away with it until it starts to surface on its own. Then it comes out in the form of disease. Or perhaps it affects your mind and emotions, making you angry or withdrawn or phobic or depressed, like an infection of a deep wound that was quickly bandaged over without being cleaned and properly treated.
Or what about our guilt over things we've done that violated God's laws, laws of which we weren't aware at the time? No matter how much a woman who has had an abortion believes her decision was right, I've never heard one say, "I've been fulfilled and enriched by this experience." She may feel relieved of a burden, but she never thinks, "What a wonderful thing I've done. I know I have truly realized God's purpose for my life and I am a better person because of it." Acknowledged or not, the guilt is there because she has violated a law of nature.
What and who can take this guilt away? A friend's saying, "Don't worry about it.... It wasn't your fault.... You can't blame yourself" never gets rid of what you feel inside. Only God's forgiveness can do that. When we pray the prayer of salvation to receive Jesus as our Savior, we are immediately released from the penalty of our past mistakes. For the first time we are free from having to face the failure of our past.
The Prayer of Salvation Brings Peace and Abundant Life
When you pray to receive Jesus as your Savior, you have the peace of knowing that your future is secure. God's Word says, "Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40). Your future in this life is also secure. God promises that if you acknowledge Him as Savior, He will guide you safely where you need to go: "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:6). This doesn't mean that He will instantly have all our problems solved and we will never again know pain, but we will have the power within us to reach our full potential.
When Jesus died on the cross, He also rose from the dead to break the power of death over anyone who receives His life. Jesus conquered death-whether at the end of life or in the multiple ways that we face death daily. In the death of our dreams, finances, health, or relationships, Jesus can bring His life to resurrect any dead place in us. Therefore we don't have to feel hopeless. He also gives to everyone who opens up to Him a quality of life that is meaningful, abundant, and fulfilling. He transcends our every limitation and boundary and enables us to do things we never would have been capable of aside from Him. He is the only One who can give us life before death as well as life hereafter. Without Him we die a little every day. With Him as our Savior we become more and more alive.
The Prayer of Salvation Gives Entrance to the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God sent by Jesus to give us comfort, to build us up, to guide us in all truth, to bring us spiritual gifts, to help us pray more effectively, and to give us wisdom and revelation. The Holy Spirit is not a vapor or a mystical cloud; He is another part of God. He is God's power and the means by which God speaks to us.
Excerpted from Seven Prayers that will change your life forever by Stormie Omartian Copyright © 2010 by Stormie Omartian. Excerpted by permission.
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