Create in me a clean heart, O God… Psalm 51:10
This is about the most radical prayer a human being can ask God. It goes to the root of what we are. Our reaction to prayers like this is often, “Oh, I prayed that when I was converted” or, “David must have been a really evil man to have needed that!” We must not analyse too closely the theological correctness of our prayers. Our spiritual history may be outstanding, but our spiritual need may be staring everyone in the face. It is a great climb-down to pray a prayer like this, and involves readiness to let God deal with us at a very basic level. We are asking God to change us at the deep, unconscious level of our beings. We may be only dimly conscious of what is going wrong, but we must bare our soul to God and let Him change us. This is the radical kind of prayer that will mark out true disciples – it is not praying theologically correct prayers that takes us deeper with God. This does not mean that we pray this prayer every day, but it does mean that we turn to God when we are conscious of a deep lack in our ability to love others, or to conquer besetting sins. Our lives may be marred by impatience and irritability, but these are signs of a deep malaise that God has the power to deal with. No-one is born with the character of Jesus; it must be imparted by God’s grace. It is only our natural virtues, combined with pride, that will ultimately stop us going deeper with God. We don’t have to parade our need before people, but we must cease from being defensive in our estimation of ourselves.
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