For years Anna struggled alone with shame over a deep secret she’d never shared with anyone. She didn’t realize how much the weight of this secret controlled her life. Fear, disgust, and hopelessness were her close companions. But she always managed to keep a smile and look put together.
Until one day, she hit rock bottom and found herself in a bottomless, dark pit of depression. She felt like her life was spiraling out of control, and Anna felt awful and couldn’t hold it together any longer.
Can you relate? Are you keeping a secret that you are ashamed to share with anyone? And is it holding you back from living a fulfilling life?
This month, we’ve examined the four different types of prayers, namely supplication, adoration, and thanksgiving. Today’s post is about the prayers of contrition or repentance and breaking down spiritual barriers in our lives.
What is the Prayer of Contrition?
Prayers of contrition or repentance help us express sincere remorse for wrongful acts. It’s when we acknowledge our brokenness and need for repentance and forgiveness. Prayers of contrition can be personal (Psalm 51) or corporate (Nehemiah 1:4-7; 9:1).
Let’s take a deep dive and look at an example from the life of David.
A Prayer of Contrition in the Bible
David had everything at his disposal. He was king over Israel and commanded a large army. He also loved God, but he did not know his own heart or blind spots.
When he was supposed to be leading his men at war, he chose to stay back home. One evening when he couldn’t sleep, he decided to walk around on the roof of the palace.
Then in the distance, he saw the silhouette of a beautiful woman bathing outside. David couldn’t get her out of his mind. He sent for the woman and slept with her.
He thought he could keep it a secret, except there was only one problem. The woman who was married to one of David’s soldiers was now pregnant. David plotted to kill her husband, and he succeeded (2 Samuel 11:1-17).
Others might not see or know about our secrets, but God sees and knows all. Nothing is hidden from God. David’s secret sin was a barrier to his relationship with God. The path to breaking down secret sins and spiritual barriers in our lives begins with acceptance.
Steps to Breaking Down Spiritual Barriers: Acceptance
God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David. When confronted, David responded, I have sinned against the Lord (2 Samuel 12:13).
Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of repentance. He expressed sincere remorse and regretted his transgressions of adultery and murder. He accepted responsibility for his sins, not only against others but against God’s will and ways, and he cried out to God for mercy.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight (Psalm 51:1-4).
David came clean with God about his transgressions. He let go of the secret and shame, and he gained deep insights into the condition of his own heart. Listen to what he says in his prayer:
Surely, I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place (Psalm 51:5-6).
Repentance and confession help us see our hearts and blind spots clearly. When we come clean before God with our sin, like David, we too will gain deep personal insights.
Secrets, sin, and shame keep our souls fragmented and in bondage, but God desires to heal, restore, and make us whole.
Steps to Breaking Down Spiritual Barriers: Forgiveness
David petitioned God for forgiveness. He asked God to cleanse, restore, and create a pure heart within him. David recognized his brokenness and need for divine help to be restored and made whole again. He called out…
Cleanse me, and I will be clean…
Create in me a pure heart…
Renew your steadfast spirit within me…
Do not cast me away…
Like David, when we confess our sins and repent, God will forgive us according to the riches of his grace.
Steps to Breaking Down Spiritual Barriers: Surrender
Receiving God’s forgiveness requires us to surrender our secret sins, and old ways. David acknowledged that he needed help to let go and follow God’s plans. He pleaded…
Grant me a willing spirit to sustain me…
You do not require burnt offerings… but a broken spirit and a contrite heart you will not despise (Psalm 51:17).
As David completed his prayer of contrition, I imagine him saying; Lord, when you’ve done it, I will turn around and teach others the lessons I learned from this experience. I will help them turn back to you (Psalm 51:13, my paraphrase).
What secrets are you keeping that are holding you back from living a full life? In what ways can you let go and surrender to God’s best for you?
Back to Anna, one night, she was so restless. As she sobbed and prayed, she confessed to the abortion she had as a teenager. She asked God to forgive her. She was surprised by how much better she felt just talking to God about it. For the first time, she felt at peace.
Friend, I don’t know what secret you are carrying that is a spiritual barrier between you and God. The good news is God wants to deliver you. Like Anna and David, you too can call out to him and receive forgiveness and restoration today.
God loves you!
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