Friday, March 2, 2012

The Atonement, A Prayer

"The atonement is the crucial doctrine of the faith. Unless we are right here it matters little, or so it seems to me, what we are like elsewhere." ~ Leon Morris, The Cross in the New Testament (pg. 5)

In my last post I mentioned that in a class on worship that I am taking, our professor, Dr. Derek Thomas, has encouraged us to write out prayers on various subjects so that we can think about how we would lead a congregation in prayer before a sermon. This is not so that we would memorize prayers but so that we would engage in the practice of "studied prayers" and be prepared to pray well before a congregation.

Below is one I wrote on the atonement. It is not going to compare to Leon Morris' treatment of the atonement in the above mentioned book, but I hope you find it helpful, perhaps something you can pray through, and perhaps a blessing to your soul.

Father, we come before You to worship You as men and women in need of Your grace and mercy. We were born in iniquity and in sin we were conceived. Not a day goes by that don’t sin against You in thought, word, and deed. It is Your law that we daily break, not ours or the government’s; against You and You only have we sinned. Where can we flee from Your presence? Can we hide our sin from You? Can the darkness hide us? No, for even the darkness is not dark to You; to You the night is as bright as day. We confess our sinfulness to You because we can never flee from it or You. We can never avert Your wrath. We can never make amends for our guilt before You.

Fortunately, Father, because of Your wisdom and love, we don’t have to. We, who are in Christ, who have confessed with our mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord and believed in our hearts that You raised Him from the dead, don’t have to atone for our sins because You sent Jesus to do that for us. We praise You Father because in Your most wise, holy, unchangeable, just, and loving will, You found the only way to satisfy the demands of Your justice against sinners and to pour out Your grace upon Your people. You couldn’t leave sin unpunished and we could never bear the punishment. We praise and adore You because in this way You loved the world—You gave Your only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him and His atoning work would not perish, but have eternal life with You in glory. We honor and worship You because You chose to justify Your elect as a gift, and You put forward Jesus as a propitiation—a sacrifice to satisfy Your wrath—to be received by faith. We extol, exalt, and thank You, because You showed Your righteousness, Your wisdom, Your justice, and Your love, so that You might be both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus.

Jesus, we would be remiss if we did not praise and honor You for submitting Yourself to the will of our God and Father and giving Yourself for our sins, so that You might deliver us out of this present evil world. We praise You for, though You were in the form of God, You did not consider that equality You have with God something to be grasped. We praise You because You stooped to our level, emptied Yourself, and humbled Yourself by becoming obedient to God the Father even to the point of death on a cross. We praise and honor You because You offered Yourself, for all time, as a single sacrifice to atone for our sins and then You sat down at the right hand of God the Father. We extol, exalt, and thank You because You are our great High Priest and atoning sacrifice so that we may have confidence to enter into the holy places, confidence to draw near to God (something the Old Testaments saints could only dream of doing), and confidence to hold fast the confession of our hope because You are faithful to fulfill all You promised.

Spirit, though You turn the spotlight from Yourself onto Christ, we cannot end this prayer without praising and thanking You for applying Christ’s atoning sacrifice to us. We praise and thank You, for You, You replaced our heart of stone with one of flesh, You worked faith in us, and You united us to Christ so that might enjoy the benefits of His atoning work.

Father, we ask that You keep these truths before us so that we might bask in Your grace always. Remind us through Your Word, Your Spirit, and Your Church how intensely we are loved by You. Give us an ever-increasing view of our sinfulness and an ever-increasing view of Your holiness, so that Your grace in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ might also be ever-increasing in our hearts and our minds. Help us to remind each other daily of Your just and justifying love for us. Help us to preach the gospel to ourselves and to each other so that we might encourage and stir one another up to love and good works, all the more as we see the Day drawing near.

We pray all these things in the name of our atoning sacrifice and high priest, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

By His Grace,

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