O Lord, We Have Sinned

O Lord, We Have Sinned

A fellow OPC minister wrote a sobering letter to his congregation this week, in which he reminded the people of God that the global health crisis we are suffering from is the hand of Almighty God. We are tempted to look around at times like this and ask the question, “Who is to blame?” Government? Shadow government? China? Donald Trump? The Democrats? State and local officials? The CDC? The Federal Reserve? And on and on and on…The answer in every generation is that the wicked will always rage against the Lord and His anointed (Ps. 2), but God is reigning on His heavenly throne.

What is the response of God’s people at times such as these? A lesson may be learned from Daniel, who, when he understood that the desolations of Jerusalem would last 70 years, according to the Word of the Lord, he bowed himself in humility and submission to the chastening hand of a loving Father. He prayed. And not only did he pray, but he prayed confessing the sins of his people as his own sins. You can read about that in Daniel 9.

This impulse to repent of our sins in times of national and international calamity led John Knox to pattern a prayer of confession on that of Daniel. I commend that prayer to you as the proper expression of our hearts before God at this time. The events of the last few weeks and months are the hand of God. They are God’s judgments upon the wicked and unbelieving, those who know God but “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1). But for the believer, God has placed all of our judgment upon His Son at the cross. God is not judging His church. He does, however, chasten those that He loves (Heb. 12:6). Let us bow in humble submission beneath the chastening hand of a loving Father and pray this prayer from our own hearts and in our own words:

A Confession of Our Sins, Framed to Our Time, out of the Ninth Chapter of Daniel (from Knox’s Form of Prayers, 1556)

“O Lord God, who is mighty and dreadful, you who keep covenant and show mercy to those who love you, and do your commandments; we have sinned, we have offended, we have wickedly and stubbornly gone back from your laws and precepts. We would have never obeyed your servants the prophets who spoke in your name to our kings and princes, to our forefathers, and to all the people of our land. O Lord, righteousness belongs to you, to us pertains nothing but open shame, as it is come to pass this day, to our miserable country of England, yes to all our nation, whether they be far, or near, through all lands, in which they are scattered for all the offenses that they and we have committed against you, so that the curses and punishments which are written in your law and now poured upon us, and you have performed those words with which you did menace us and our rulers, that governed us, in bringing the same plagues upon us with which we were previously threatened. And yet, nevertheless, both they, and we proceed in our iniquity and do not cease to heap sin upon sin. For those who once were well instructed in the gospel, are now gone back from the obedience to your truth, and are turned again to the most abominable idolatry, from which they were once called by the preaching of the Word. And we, even to this day, do not earnestly repent of our former wickedness, neither do we rightly consider the heaviness of your displeasure. Such are your just judgments, O Lord, that you punish sin by sin, and man by his own inventions, so that there can be no end of iniquity, except you prevent us with your undeserved grace. Therefore, convert us, O Lord, and we shall be converted, for we do not offer up our prayers trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold mercies. And although you have once of your special grace delivered us from the miserable bondage of error and blindness, and called us many times, to the sweet liberty of the gospel, which we, nevertheless, have most shamefully abused, in obeying rather our own lusts and affections than the admonitions of your prophets; yet again we ask you once again for your name’s sake, to pour some comfortable drop of your accustomed mercies upon us; incline your ears and open your eyes, to behold the grievous plagues of our country, the continual sorrows of our afflicted brothers and sisters, and our woeful banishment. And let our afflictions and just punishment be an admonition and warning to other nations, among whom we are scattered, that with all reverence they may obey the holy gospel, unless for their contempt, they would have similar, or worse, plagues fall upon them. Therefore, O Lord, hear us. O Lord, forgive us. O Lord, consider and do not delay for long, but for your dear Son Jesus Christ’s sake, be merciful to us and deliver us. So shall it be known to all the world, that you alone are the selfsame God, who ever shows mercy, to all such, as call upon your holy name.”

Amen.

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