I’ve written a book called Praying with the Psalmists, and I’m going through it with my church small group. The basic idea is to look at ten types of Psalms and use patterns from the Psalms in your own prayers.
Since I’m urging other people to try it, the least I can do is keep doing it myself! This week we’re covering Psalms of Confession.
Psalms of Confession follow a similar pattern to Laments, and I’ve made an ACCESS acronym to remember the parts:
Address to God
Confession of Sin
Confession of Trust
Sureness of Help
I haven’t committed any big sins lately. No lying or stealing or killing. But I think of a line from a group confession in church: “We have not loved you with our whole hearts.” I have committed plenty of sins of omission.
In fact, when I approach Psalms of Confession with my own inadequacy, I find I have plenty to pray about. And a characteristic of these Psalms in the Bible is that they overflow with the Lord’s mercy, forgiveness, and chesed, unfailing love.
Lately, my life is very good, but I feel like I’m doing too many good things — and then feeling inadequate when I don’t do them well. It came to a head the other night, when a closet shelf in my bedroom closet collapsed in the middle of my night and scared me half to death. I was relieved when I found out what it was — but also found out it stirred up all my anxieties.
Let me stop explaining and take it before the Lord.
Have mercy on me, Lord.
Grant me your peace.
See me with your eyes of love,
instead of my eagle-eyed perfectionism.
Lord, you’ve filled my life with good things —
a job I love,
an award committee,
a choir to sing with,
a small group to help lead,
a book ready to send out,
a website to add to,
a group to play games with,
weekly virtual visits with my kids,
a trip coming to see family,
a sister coming after that,
a home I love and want to keep clean…
And I am not keeping up with those wonderful things.
Worse, I’m wasting time mindlessly reading Twitter or Facebook,
when I could at least be reading for the award.
I’m unproductive and stay up late
and then don’t have energy for what I should be doing.
Yes, perfectionism is robbing my joy,
but it’s also that old problem of wanting to do more wonderful things
than a human can do.
And then I wear myself out
and fret about what I’m not doing
Or worry about how I’m going to prepare
unwilling to let things go,
unwilling to understand
that often the only one requiring perfection of me
Lord, you “give sleep to those you love.”
And you grant me 24 hours in a day.
You have given me these wonderful gifts,
this wonderful time in my life.
You know that I am dust,
and you love me anyway.
You know I won’t get it all done,
and I won’t make perfect choices,
that I’ll often choose unwisely
and bear the consequences in needless exhaustion.
Yet you love me anyway.
Lord, grant me your Joy.
You’ve blessed me abundantly —
help me remember.
Give me wisdom in choosing how to spend my time
and grant me grace when I fail to choose wisely.
Redeem my mistakes,
show me the joy of imperfection.
Thank you, Lord, for always loving me.
Thank you that you have promised to give wisdom generously.
Thank you that you don’t find fault
when I need to ask yet once again.
If I had my way,
I’d simply do a certain list of tasks each day of the week.
Thank you for not giving me my way,
and adding so much spice and variety and job
if I’m willing to see it.
Lord, I know you will answer this prayer
and help me live with more joy.
And that joy will overflow in praise to you.
Thank you for amazing moments like the sunrise over the lake this morning.
Thank you for showing your love.
May I praise you as long as I live.
Please — anyone is welcome to add their own prayer in the comments!