Understanding Failure Helps Understand God

Sometimes in ministry, (by ministry I mean all those who are involved in some way or another in serving others in the name of Christ), you wake up in the morning knowing that there are things to be done and not enough time to do them. There are people to see, situations to pray about and you have to make decisions who to see and who to re-schedule. The sad thing is that there are times when we get it wrong often because you haven't read the signs correctly. When that happens I'm often reminded of an old prayer in the 1662 Book of Common Order. Its called a prayer of general Confession, in it we say " We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done and there is no health in us" I like the phrase "there is no health in us" quite often that is just how we feel. We literally feel sick with the way things have turned out. I realise now that telling God how I feel is an important step to recovery and better spiritual health. Too often we carry the burdens of our parishes and friends when we should be giving them into the hands of Almighty God. Too often we ministers and elders carry too much of the burden. It is Christ who changes a situation not you or me. We may be our brother's keeper but we are not our brother's Saviour. We too are sinners in need of a Saviour. The thing is the next part of the prayer is all about bringing a sense of reality and grace into the situation. " But thou, O Lord have mercy upon us miserable offenders: spare thou them who confess their faults. Restore thou them that are penitent. The wonderful thing is that God knows our hearts. When we serve we are not serving for the praise of our fellow human beings we are serving in order to bring glory to God. I've come to the conclusion that God is much more merciful than some of our fellow Christian brothers and sisters and even more merciful thatn we are ourselves. Of course there is another part of the prayer of Confession that we often forget to hear. When we pray we need to remind ourselves that God is willing to answer and respond to our prayers. The Absolution as it is called is said so that we can be reassured of our forgiveness. The Absolution contains these words, "He pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent and unfeignedly believe his Holy Gospel. Wherefore let us beseech him to grant us true repentanceand his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do at this present. " Here in this prayer we are reminded that it is out of God's grace that we are even able to repent. Repentance is not something that comes to us naturally, it is the work of God's Holy Spirit at work in our hearts. Amazing isn't it what we can learn from these old prayers.
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