January 13, 2014

A Prayer of Confession

Ezra 9

I rose from my self-abasement, with my tunic and cloak torn, and fell on my knees with my hands spread out to the LORD my God and prayed.
—Ezra 9:5-6


The leaders of Israel approached Ezra with bad news. While building God’s house, Israel was still following their own de-sires. Everyone was guilty. The leaders and officials led the way in unfaithful living.

Discouraged, Ezra likely wanted to walk away after all the hard work he had done. But he chose a better way: He “fell on [his] knees … and prayed.”

First, Ezra admitted his sins and the sins of the people. Then he recounted the Lord’s faithfulness and confessed that the people had failed to apply God’s Word to their daily lives as holy people of the Lord. They had mixed with the people around them and accepted their “detestable practices”—that is, the worship of other gods and the immorality that went with it: perverse sexual relations, child sacrifice, occult practices, and more (see Leviticus 18-20; Deuteronomy 7:3-4; 18:9-13). Ezra also appealed to God’s character: “Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous!” Ezra prayed that the Lord would not toss them aside but instead redeem them for his purposes.

When we confess our sins, Jesus doesn’t toss us aside or throw us out like trash. He is willing to forgive us and redeem us to live life on his terms and by his Spirit’s power.

Are there sins you need to confess? Do so, and God will give you another opportunity to live his way.

Savior, please forgive my sins. Renew me, Lord, and free me to do your will from now on. Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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