You have so constructed this world that it has become, for us, a place to prepare for eternity. Help us to get our hearts in the right place and keep them there – focused on you and not on ourselves, our possessions or our worldly pleasures. Help us to use what material goods we have to serve you and prepare ourselves treasure in heaven.
Help us to see our trials as a gift from you, especially designed to train us and lead us to Jesus. Your servant James once wrote (James 1:2-4) that we should, “Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
That’s what we want to be – “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” To the extent that we must endure trials, experience pain and undergo suffering, let it be for your glory and the honor of the name of Jesus Christ.
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
John came baptizing with water for repentance. At that time he knew that the kingdom of heaven had drawn near because Jesus had finally come. He was at the start of his public ministry. Jesus has now come and gone, so we know the unfulfilled aspects of the kingdom are nearer to us than they were for John. And Father, we therefore desire to turn from our sins.
Help us to turn from sin in all its forms, first in those obvious ways in which we know we offend you, but also in those ways that are less obvious. Reveal to us those ways in which we sin against you and defile ourselves. Show us those actions, behaviors or attitudes in which our motives are impure. Like the people of Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan who were going out to John to be baptized we confess our sins to you.
Let our lives be characterized by repentance. Let our hearts and our minds be pure. In every way, let us experience that change of mind that leads to a change in direction. Let our only desire be to more fully follow you. Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again, and it is high time that we, his bride, made ourselves ready.