Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
There are times in life when extended prayer time is needed. Not for the sake of earning favor with God or assuring a better place in heaven, but for the health of your soul. Jesus modeled moments where He would take hours to be alone with His heavenly Father. Usually, it was when there was a decision to be made or when He needed strength. In that same way, there are times when our 30-second prayers are not enough.
We see one of those moments in the Old Testament when David had sinned against God by sleeping with Bathsheba and murdering her husband, Uriah the Hittite. After the prophet Nathan confronted David, David spent some time doing business with God in prayer. In Psalm 51, we find the prayer of confession that he wrote. He begged God to forgive him of his sin and to clean out his heart. David knew that his offense was more than he could handle, and so he turns to God for forgiveness. He spent days fasting and looking to God for help.
In that same way, there are times where extended prayer sessions are warranted. When making a big decision, you need to schedule out some time to pray so God can make His will clear to you. When you or a loved one are sick or receive a diagnosis, the Bible calls you to gather together with the leaders in your church for prayer (James 5:14-15). When you are anxious or bound in fear, the Bible encourages us to find solace in prayer (Philippians 4:6). When you are locked up in conflict with another person, and you see no way out, it may be time to look to God for help by seeking His face. Through inviting God into your decisions, sickness, anxiety, conflict, and whatever difficulty you are facing, you will find that He is willing and able to bring peace.
When I was a youth pastor, we used to take kids away to camp and one of the most powerful moments was "solo time." We would separate the students from one another and have them spend 2 to 3 hours in a focused time of prayer and Bible study. Your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to schedule a block of time to spend alone with God. You can use this time to pray, read Scripture or to ask God for direction on your life. Use a journal and write down what God reveals you through this focused time of prayer. If you do this before you come to our weekend service, I promise that you won't be disappointed!
Read Psalm 51:1-19 (NLT)
Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love.Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice.Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
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