We would like to think that we say and do the right things in every situation. Even when we don’t, we typically feel that our behavior is justified. But think about it – if we were blameless, we wouldn’t need Jesus to redeem us.
We tend to classify sins according to our personal view instead of God’s standard. Sin is more than committing actions that we classify as mean or wicked. Sin ranges from unbelief to operating outside of God’s will to committing offenses. Even in our sin, we tend to magnify the offenses we don’t commit and minimize the ones that we do. Romans 3:23 reminds us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
It is very difficult for some people to acknowledge that they are anything less than completely perfect in every way. However, that perspective dishonors God because the self-righteous are more concerned about glorifying themselves rather than glorifying our heavenly Father. Furthermore, self-righteousness dangerously gives non-believers the false impression that believers are somehow more worthy of God’s love than they are. God is our Creator and loves all of His children. 1 John 4:7 says “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” God is no respecter of persons. Romans 2:11 says “For there is no respect of persons with God.” We are saved by grace, not by our acts. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” By contrast, those who are self-righteous are blind to their own faults, their own shortcomings, their own need for God’s cleansing and forgiveness. Self-righteousness is rooted in pride and accelerated by selfishness. The Lord sees our heart and knows the source of our prayer requests – are we praying out of sincere love and concern or praying with self-centered motives? 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Cultivating a rich prayer life means confessing our sins and asking God to forgive us. Sins are a deviation from God’s standard which means only God can forgive us for our sins. We must come clean before our heavenly Father and confess our sins to God. It is humbling and liberating to admit that we have fallen short of God’s standard and to seek His forgiveness. However, we cannot ask God to help us address wrongs that we refuse to admit. Confession renews our relationship with God. Confession opens the door to God’s intervention in areas where we struggle. 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Confession cleanses our heart and renews our spirit, aligning us with God so that we pray according to God’s will instead of our own.