Recently, the members of Emmaus Church, Kansas City met for an evening of prayer during which time we confessed several specific, corporate sins. We did so with the eager anticipation for God to reform our hearts to reflect his gospel more clearly, which is something we should continually long for in our lives. With our move to North KC just days away, it is healthy for us to keep these confessions and petitions on our lips as we look to Jesus to continue to build his church. And even if you aren’t a member of Emmaus, these confessions may serve you well: it pleases God when we acknowledge our neediness for him in prayer, and in confession, that’s just what we do.
“Father God, this evening we come to you with heavy hearts, convicted of many things, and we thank you now for the opportunity to confess and repent of them as one body, to be unified with one heart and mind.
Prayerlessness – Father, this prayer is in and of itself an act of repentance, for we confess our prayerlessness as a church. Often, Father, we have shown an over-reliance on our abilities and our talents and our planning. We confess that, for all the signs of faithfulness and health that this congregation truly does exhibit, we have not always been marked as a people who fervently seek you for help. We ask that you would make us aware of our weakness and dependence on you and your Holy Spirit—make us desperate for you, Holy Spirit, not just to satisfy our own joy, but to empower us to do anything worth mentioning. Lord, you have instructed us in your Word that “unless the Lord builds a house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” (Ps. 127:1) Cause us to be convinced of this, LORD, for we know that if we truly believe only you can build your church, we would be quicker to beg for your help and your direction, and our planning would be born out of deep and desperate prayer.
Pride – And Father, this prayerlessness also communicates a much deeper sin, which is Pride. Our pride manifests itself in a number of forms, and in addition to prayerlessness, we also confess that pride rears its ugly head in our midst when we refuse to confess our sin to one another. We confess, God, that we value others’ perception of us far too highly; we are so committed to the image of virtue and respectability and faithfulness we want to project for others that we fail to do the virtuous, respectable, and faithful act of confession. In this, we needlessly deprive ourselves of one of your gifts of grace, we confess that pride is the cooperate behind such self-destruction. Our pride also manifests itself, Lord, in our tireless comparing of others. This act of comparing ourselves with others betrays our small view of you, God, for it is impossible to fear you while simultaneously fearing man, and the refusal to fear you over man is due to nothing less than an inaccurately small view of you.
Disunity – Father, we also confess the ways in which this fear of man destroys our church body uniquely. For when we compare ourselves with each other in a vicious circle of competition, we reduce our fellow brothers and sisters for shameful gain. Either they become objects of our judgment to occasion our boasting when we tear them down to elevate ourselves, or we make ourselves objects of self-condemnation when we consider our accomplishments sub-par to theirs. In both of these cases, Lord, we fail to love and cherish your body as a body. May we not resent the gifts you have given others and withheld from us, for you have given gifts to bless and build the church, and may we not boast of the gifts you have given us and withheld from others, for you have given gifts to bless and build the church. May we celebrate our brothers and sisters’ accomplishments as our own, and grieve over our brothers’ and sisters’ sorrows as our own. Protect us, Lord, from a disunity by means of creating silos and unrelated spheres. We confess, Lord, that often we have contented ourselves with calling a brother and sister a “brother and sister” without taking the time to extend a gracious hand of invitation and friendship. Forgive us for this sectarianism, which should not even be named in your church.
Bitterness – And Father, we confess that our disunity finds even darker expressions in the form of bitterness and forgiveness. We harbor grudges and insist on inflicting the punishment of emotive and relational shunning of those we profess to be in “community” with. Lord, please forbid such bitterness to continue in our midst. Remind us of the embarrassing amount of grace and forgiveness you have lavished upon us, and continue to lavish upon us even now, so that we can show even a fraction of such grace and forgiveness to one another.
Inhospitality – Lord, we are thus also reminded of our corporate sin of inhospitality. We confess, Lord, that we are quick to justify our inhospitality with empty excuses. Lord, you have shown so much hospitality to us by opening your arms and bringing us into your home, not just as guests, but as children! But Father, we confess that such a posture of invitation and hospitality is not always a mark of this body—either towards other members, or towards visitors and guests. Holy Spirit, please convict and guide us in this area where necessary; may we reflect the kind of hospitality and generosity that is befitting of a congregation that boasts of boasting in nothing but the gospel.
Lack of evangelistic zeal – Lastly, Lord, we are here reminded of our lack of evangelistic zeal. Many of us are content with meditating on the riches of your gospel, and reveling in the riches of your gospel with one another, but we don’t insist on sharing the riches of your gospel to the lost. We confess that the lostness of our neighbors doesn’t cause us to ache with grief. Animate us, Lord, to be an evangelistic people; may the prospect of hell for our neighbors be so intensely horrifying to us that their state of ignorance regarding your gospel becomes intolerable. Cause us to see people no longer according to the flesh, but give us eyes instead to see the tragedy of unbelief. May we be totally discontented to remain silent about your gospel; give us occasion to share the good news of what you have done in Christ with those who do not cling to him in faith, and give us a boldness to do this with passion and earnestness. May we be marked by urgency where there once was negligence. And Father, remind us that the ability to even be this honest with all of our sins and failures is nothing short of extreme grace: we have liberty to confess our sins because we are your children, purchased by the costly blood of Jesus, and we are now free to be brutally honest with our sin because, quite literally, we have nothing to lose. Therefore, we ask, Holy Spirit, that even as you convict us of our sins, you do so as our kind and gentle Comforter, bearing witness with our spirit that we truly are children of God.”
Look What God Has Done
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Come and See
It Is Finished
The Gospel Is All I Have
Call to Worship
Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! – Psalm 96:1-9
I will bear the indignation of the LORD because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. – Micah 7:9
Assurance of Pardon
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. – Micah 7:18-19
Now may God the Spirit, who is your seal of redemption, purchased for you by the blood of God the Son, according to the will of God the Father, encourage you this week and remind you of the love that has been poured out upon you in the gospel. May He empower you to display your gospel, even as you declare it, to the glory of our great and glorious Triune God. Amen.
Praise to the Lord
Grace Greater Than Our Sin
Come Ye Sinners
Oh, Amazing Mystery!
Call to Worship
Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! – Psalms 65:1-4
O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. For it is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that dishonor has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my mother’s sons. For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me. When I wept and humbled my soul with fasting, it became my reproach. When I made sackcloth my clothing, I became a byword to them. I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me. But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. – Psalms 69:5-13
Assurance of Pardon
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. – Ephesians 2:1-7
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
How Firm a Foundation
Now Why This Fear
Bring Your Sick
Call to Worship
My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn! I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth! – Psalm 108:1-5
O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. – Daniel 9:18
Assurance of Pardon
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. – 1 John 2:1
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
Bring Your Sick (NEW SONG)
Come Ye Souls by Sin Afflicted
Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor
The Wonderful Grace of Jesus
Call to Worship
Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. – Psalm 100:3-4
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! You have said, “Seek my face. My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! – Psalm 27:7-8
Assurance of Pardon
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. – Hebrews 10:11-14
As you leave this place as strangers and exiles on this earth, may you cling to Christ with fervency and so thereby seek your heavenly homeland, which is a better country. May you gladly accept the reproach that comes with bearing the name of Jesus, by the power of God the Spirit, in the name of God the Son, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.