How are you? No, I mean how are you really? Not just physically or mentally but spiritually, deep in your soul? Probably there – in our soul and the soul of our church – we might be aware that all is not as it should be. Do we long to go deeper into the things of God, do we hanker after a clearer sense of God’s presence in our worship and to see more power and fruit in our evangelism? Are we aware of a need for greater holiness, for Jesus to be at the centre? In short are we praying for revival and renewal for ourselves, our churches, our nation? If so, David’s prayer in Psalm 51 could well be ours, especially verses 10 to 12.
V10a “Create in me a pure heart, O God”.
David is repenting of his grievous sin of adultery and murder; he knows the absolute wretchedness of his heart. He desires a new, pure heart so he asks God to create just that. Only God can create. And certainly only God can create pure hearts. Let us pray for such a miracle in ourselves, our churches, our nation. See Ezekiel 36:26.
V10b “and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
This is the cry of the repentant – to be renewed, restored. All too often our spiritual lives are dependent upon our mood or our circumstances. Consequently they go up and down. David asks for steadfastness of spirit. He hadn’t been exactly steadfast when he succumbed to the temptation to lust and a murderous attempt to cover it up. He sees the need for that now. But such steadfastness comes as the result of the Holy Spirit’s working within us. David is doubtless remembering how the Spirit departed from his predecessor, Saul. So he cries out: “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me”. (v11).
V12 “grant me a willing spirit to sustain me”
The word here suggests an ‘enthusiastic volunteer’. We serve and worship the Lord not because we have to but because we want to, on account of our great love for him, prompted by his infinitely greater love for us. So here is God’s gracious gift of an antidote to our tendency to drift away into sin and temptation: a willing spirit! Such a spirit delights in God’s will rather than one’s own: “To do your will, O my God, is my desire; your law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8).
And all this is of God himself, not something we can work up or achieve. David (and we ourselves) asks God to create (a pure heart), to renew (a steadfast spirit) and to grant (a willing spirit).
Just imagine what would happen if we all prayed like that!
I look forward to seeing you at Bible Focus on September 10th. Do make sure the date is in your diary and don’t forget to tell your friends!
Your brother in Christ,