"...as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us."
Ever missed the mark on your plans or intentions? Ever fallen short of a standard you've set yourself, or others have set you? Truth is, everyone is saying ‘yes’ right now.
It's the unfortunate but universal human experience. The bible describes this human experience as sin, especially with respect to our plans before God and His standards for our lives (see Romans 3:23). As a word, ‘sin’ has fallen out of use these days. But it’s emotional consequence in our hearts - feeling guilty - hasn’t. We’ve often got guilt in our hearts but no tools powerful enough to deal with the emotion. What if getting real with ourselves and God could set our hearts free?
How does guilt affect our prayer lives?
Prayer involves coming before the one Being in the universe we know we've definitely missed the mark with and fallen short of. Guilt is therefore one of the most common emotions to clutter out our praying.
How do we know guilt is at work?
We're avoiding, or avoidant. It may be subtle, but we either outright don't feel comfortable praying or instead find all sorts of other things to do instead of praying. Our hearts have quite potentially become cluttered with guilt.
So, how do we overcome the guilt-clutter within?
Remember God - who He is and what He's done (see Romans 3:24). God has known all along our inability to hit the mark with Him. My tendency, left to myself, is to over-estimate what I can do or underestimate my ability to restist sins temptations. That's why He sent His Son Jesus - to forgive us of our sins, and free us of cyclic failure to overcome them by our own efforts (see Romans 5:12-21).
Confess - what we feel guilty about. The Holy Spirit helps us here, especially if we're not clear or sure (see John 16:13).
Trust + hope - Trust in what Jesus has already done for you, and the status he has imputed to you. Imputation is receiving God's perspective of us in our hearts and seeing ourselves as He sees us (rather than how we see ourselves now - disappointing and disappointed). A great passage to think on in prayer is Ephesians 2:1-10. This is a great guilt-overcoming and hope inspiring passage.
Repent + believe - In the area we feel guilt, turn around and face Jesus (that's what repentance means). Then believe - in the wisdom, guidance and help of Jesus for you. Ask - how can I hit the mark or fulfill what I intend in this area of my life with your help Jesus? Listen for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, especially through the word of God, and then walk out what you hear Him guiding you to do.
Guilt Free Living
We never grow out of the need to practice this guilt de-cluttering process. The promise of this practice is not only living with less guilt but learning to hit the mark and fulfill His plans and ours in His grace. Prayer is key to unlocking guilt free and grace empowered living.
I'm going to prayer encouraged, and I hope you are too!