Filthy Rags

For from of old men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides you, who works for him who waits for him. You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned. We have been in sin for a long time. Shall we be saved? For we have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteousness is like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:4-6 WEB.

As the preacher looked over the congregation for his next victim, I sank lower and lower in my chair. He always chose someone at random from the assembly to pray at the start of the service, so everyone tried to avoid making eye contact with him during this time. You would suddenly find everyone writing out their tithe check, reading their Bible, or the church bulletin.

When I was called on to pray, I always felt so unworthy, so unqualified. Especially when I was asked to pray for others in public. I looked down on myself and felt that if people really knew me, they wouldn't ask me to pray. I just felt like my prayers were weak and that others could do better. I often couldn't correctly get the words out because I overthought what I was going to say.

One day while praying, I was frustrated about it. So I confessed to the Lord that "I don't feel worthy to do this." To my amazement, I heard, "That's right. You're not." Then this verse came to my remembrance vividly. He made it very real to me. All our righteousness is as a filthy rag, literally in Hebrew, a menstrual cloth. If we took all the good things we've done and piled them in front of Him, that is what it would look like.

We all know this in our heads, but I finally began to understand it in my heart. It is not our religious performance or our acts of "righteousness" that makes us worthy to come to the Lord in prayer. It is the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ on the cross that makes us worthy to pray. We stand before God washed as white as snow by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, while our own "righteousness" is as a menstrual cloth.

That freedom is not a license to sin, for Jesus told us: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15 WEB). He first loved us, and if we love Him, then we should do the things that make Him happy. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35 WEB).

When you are called on to pray, speak out boldly, knowing that God has made you righteous through His Son Jesus Christ. You are only worthy because He has made you worthy, and you were brought here for such a time as this. So pray boldly and mean it. Speak to Him like you would your Dad. Share with Him the things that are going on in your life. Invite Him to be a part of what you are doing today.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank You for sending Your Son Jesus Christ to redeem us, to wipe away our sin, to wash us as white as snow. Now we can come boldly to You in prayer. I adore You, and I want to know You better. Please fill me with Your love, peace, and Your Holy Spirit. Shine Your light through me. In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen!

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