Antidote for Self-centered Prayer

I enjoy all of the daily prayers in CPH's "Treasury of Daily Prayer," but perhaps my favorite is the Prayer on Friday. It begins by thanking Lord Jesus Christ for redeeming us poor and condemned creatures not by any of our works, merit, or worthiness, but by His holy suffering, death, and shedding of blood. It goes on to detail the depth of His passion and death so He could pay our debt and we could be healed by His wounds.

It concludes: "O Lord Jesus Christ, for this and all Your other suffering and pain, we give You thanks and praise. We pray You, let Your holy bitter suffering and death not be lost on us, but grant that all times this may be our comfort, and that we may boast in it; and that as we ponder it, all evil desires in us may be snuffed out and subdued, and all virtue may be implanted and increased, so that we, having died to sin, may live in righteousness, following the example You have left us, walking in Your footsteps, enduring evil with patience, and suffering injustice with a good conscience."

I don't know about you, but my prayers easily become too self-centered. Even when I'm asking for the right things like being comforted, having evil desires snuffed out and subdued, so that I may live in righteousness, I forget how those things are empowered in me. It is not by the frequency or fervency of my prayer, my earnestness or sincerity (thank the Lord) but for the sake of Jesus and His saving work that I am not only saved but am sanctified. This prayer helps to focus my attention properly on Jesus, His person and work, through whom my prayers are heard and answered by the heavenly Father, but in whom I live in faith and repentance and walk in the new life I have been given as a baptized child of God.

I am reminded again that as I pray, I come to God simply as a beggar. I have nothing to bring to Him to earn His attention or favor, but in His grace and mercy, He has made me one of His adopted children, and heir of His kingdom for the sake of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus has taken everything that is mine--my sin!, and exchanged it for His perfect righteousness. Everything that is His is mine! That includes a place in His Kingdom and position as God's son. Good fathers want to give their children everything that would be beneficial for them. This is even more true of our perfect heavenly Father.

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