I have a confession to make: I love me. Out of this fixation of self flows a daily desire to build, fight, protect, and expand my own kingdom. I love me and my kingdom. It’s simply the natural inclination of my heart. I see it in my politics. I observe it in my desire to manipulate people to do stuff I want them to do in the name of serving Jesus. I feel it when, in false humility, I reject compliments for a well-written blog, a nugget of wisdom I may have dropped during a conversation, or preached a sermon that may have resonated gospel rhythms in the heart of the very individual paying me said compliment. Every day and in every possible way, my heart is hard at work trying to convince me that I am, well, awesome. It is in this space of self-deception that sin does its finest work in me. And without fail, whenever I choose my own kingdom, I am always left empty and wanting.
In perhaps one of the greatest sermons ever preached, The Expulsive Power of a New Affection, Thomas Chalmers surmised that there must be a greater love, a greater affection placed in the regenerate heart that usurps the rule and reign of all lesser loves. Chalmers attested:
It is then, that a love paramount to the love of the world, and at length expulsive of it, first arises in the regenerated bosom. It is when released from the spirit of bondage with which love cannot dwell, and when admitted into the number of God’s children through the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the spirit of adoption is poured upon us—it is then that the heart, brought under the mastery of one great and predominant affection, is delivered from the tyranny of its former desires, in the only way in which deliverance is possible. And that faith which is revealed to us from heaven, as indispensable to a sinner’s justification in the sight of God, is also the instrument of the greatest of all moral and spiritual achievements on a nature dead to the influence, and beyond the reach of every other application.
You see, if I am uncomfortably transparent with you, I must confess that my heart is a tyrant in need of a new affection placed in it daily. Frankly, so is yours. Our desires must come under the rule and reign of a greater love, a love that dethrones all others, with self above all being dealt the final death blow.
As I have journeyed towards the daily discipline of dying to self, I have found that the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6.9-13 plays a crucial role in properly orienting my affections godward. As it has served me well, I extend the invitation to you to pray with me in the same way.
OUR FATHER, WHO IS IN HEAVEN (Matthew 6.9a)
I confess to you, Father, today I do not believe you are my Father. I am fully aware that you are Father to the hurting, to the broken, and to those who you have freed through the work of Jesus to love you.
It is available to everyone you have freed, and it is available in abundance. You have freed me, but I do not feel free. I feel trapped by my own sin. I feel unlovable. And I feel as though I do not love you. I know these things aren’t true, but they feel true. I feel the weight of it today.
Would you help my unbelief? Would you help me to understand that you are my Father and you love me right now? Father, overwhelm me with the love I first felt when the gospel was the best news I had ever heard.
HALLOWED BE YOUR NAME (Matthew 6.9b)
Father, only you make your name holy. You do not need me to do that. I need you to do that on my behalf. If holiness isn’t your nature and you are not about the business of making your name revered, then Jesus died in my place for nothing. I’ll never be holy without the work and the person of Jesus.
I cannot work enough to please you. It’s a fool’s errand I run every day. And it has left me wanting. I confess that my most sacred moments are riddled with my own sins of lust, power, need for approval, and pride. And my pride tries to convince me daily that I can achieve holiness apart from the finished work of Jesus. I am not holy. I am the furthest thing from it.
Today, I need the good news that Jesus took my sin and clothed me in all of his righteousness. Without Jesus’s intervention, I will never see you, Father. And if I never see you, I’ll always be self-deceived. Oh, make my heart believe!
YOUR KINGDOM COME, YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN (Matthew 6.10)
Father, I confess that I say I want your kingdom. Truth is, I want my kingdom. I want it every day. It burns inside me. I want, I want, I want, I want, I want…. I want all the advantages and benefits of the rule and reign of your heavenly kingdom here on earth, but I want to be king.
Yet, my heart is often foolish, always steeped in its own selfish ambition, greed, and lust for control. My heart craves it. And it isn’t good news—not for me, not for those who love me, and it is utterly damning news for those I say I love. I’m a crummy king. I repent.
Jesus, give me the faith to believe that your kindly rule has dealt the death blow to the curse of sin’s tyrannical kingdom that is prone to rule my wondering heart.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD, AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS AS WE ALSO HAVE FORGIVEN OUR DEBTORS (Matthew 6.11-12)
It is my sin that causes me to perish. I glut myself on so many different sources of bread that aren’t life giving. I eat my fill of death. Only you give life Father through Jesus. Forgive me for seeking satisfaction in everything else but you.
The sin debt I owed with my life is the sin debt Jesus paid with his life. Through the person and work with Jesus, by the regenerating power of Holy Spirit, I have been united with you in death and in life. You have clothed me with the very same dignity and honor that I have so longed to thieve, doing so without restraint.
Father, change my heart towards other glory thieves. Grant me the compassion to invite those who have sinned against me to the same table of mercy that you have extended to me in your gospel. It is our only hope for you are the gospel and in it, you give us what we truly need: All of yourself.
Let us, smiling sinners who have been forgiven of so much, glut ourselves on the Living Bread—the very finished work of Jesus on our behalf.
AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL (THE EVIL ONE) (Matthew 6.13)
Father, one of the greatest sins of my heart is my quick protest when convicted of sin that the enemy forced my hand. If I am being honest, I was undone before I engaged. I confess that there is darkness in my heart, a darkness that longs for my kingdom. I beg you not to lead me into the temptation of believing my kingdom is better.
Rather, protect me from the craftiness of the evil one who is desperately trying to convince me that I am okay. Deliver me from myself, oh God. Free me through believing and resting in the finished work of Jesus on my behalf.
A so very amen in the precious, beautiful, wonderful and gracious name of the one true King, Jesus.
Scott Fitzgerald Scott Fitzgerald is the Executive Pastor of Metro Church of Northwest Arkansas. He is currently pursuing his MDiv at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and blogs at thethrillofhope.com.