Priscilla says in the chapter on Strategy 7 – Your Purity that “Prayers that have power come from a person in pursuit of righteous living.” p123
Walking through this fervent prayer journey now five times, of course I want to be the kind of person that has powerful prayers. So reading this got me to thinking….what is righteous living? How do we live in a righteous way on a daily basis?
The word righteous is defined as “acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin”
It feels a lot like legalism to me. And something that has been a long struggle for me, understanding God’s grace and removing myself (and my need to “earn” my salvation) from the equation. I am incapable of acting in accordance of God’s moral law. We are all. As we discussed earlier, ALL have fallen short of the glory of God.
So how can we possibly walk in righteousness when we are sin-filled, flawed individuals? And if we don’t walk in righteousness…how can we be effective in our prayer life?
I have to be careful here not to fall into the “all is hopeless” pit that I so easily find myself in. In those moments I forget the glory of the Cross, the instrument that was used to guarantee my payment for sin and instead I focus on the reality of my weaknesses.
Even Paul, whom has to be one of my favorite apostles, understood the frustration of sin. In Romans 7:15-25 he says this:
15 “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
Evil lies close at hand, for all of us, even when we want to do good. Our bodies are weak, there is a reason God sent His Son as a living sacrifice for our sins. All sins, past, present and future.
King David understood this in a unique way himself as well. All throughout the Psalms we can see his prayers and praises to God. In Psalm 25: 4-5 he says:
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.”
and this in Psalm 141: 3-4
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!
4 Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
and let me not eat of their delicacies!”
Paul, David and many others understood that sin was a part of life. It doesn’t excuse it and once we have accepted Christ we typically have a heart that responds to that gift with a desire to walk in righteous living. But sin is there. Always.
There isn’t a self-help book out there that will keep me “clean” enough or make me “good” enough or give me six steps to stop sinning so that I can be presentable to a holy God. But because of the covering of Jesus, I am clean. And since I have even the smallest grasp of the sacrifice He made on my behalf, I seek to honor Him with my life.
Through prayer, in all situations, we can do just that.
Yes we will continue to sin.
But in those moments we need to bring those struggles to God. I try to recognize it for what it is. Call it out, bring light to the dark places of my heart. And then I pray that God would use the struggle for His glory. Lord, Let me help someone else who is hurting, may they see the transformation in my life and know it is only through the power of You.
Just because we know sin will be a part of our lives doesn’t mean we have to walk in it as though there isn’t anything we can do. We can pray. We can humble ourselves and ask for help. And we can daily celebrate the gift that is the Cross. May we never forget His great love for us.
Lord, we know it is impossible to live a fully righteous life. It is only by Your sacrifice that we have access to You. What a gift You have given us! We are weak Lord, sin permeates our world so today we pray protection over us. In those times we should remain silent, put a muzzle over our mouths. In the moments we should extend grace may we remember the gift we were given first. May we seek to know You Lord more fully so that all we do might be an offering back to you. Thank you for loving us. In Jesus Name, Amen.