Clean Heart, Right Spirit

It is only in naming our sin and seeking to turn from it that we can be healed.

Read Psalm 51:1-12.

In this familiar psalm, we read that sin has a far-reaching impact on our lives, preventing us from feeling truly connected to God, and from experiencing joy and gladness. The psalmist even suffers physically from sin, “…let the bones you have crushed rejoice (vs. 8)”. Often, guilt and shame keep us from acknowledging our sin even to ourselves, let alone God, but it is only in naming our sin and seeking to turn from it that we can be healed – that we can receive that new and right spirit – that we can be restored to full relationship with God.

A spiritual practice that might be helpful is “daily examen.” At the end of each day, take some time to examine the day. Were there times when you spoke carelessly and might have caused harm? Did your ego cause you to act defensively rather than to listen openly? Did you judge someone without first learning their story? Did greed keep you from being charitable? Did self-pity get in the way of gratitude? For each sin you notice, pray, “Lord, have mercy.” Now think about acts, thoughts, or words that were generous, kind, or life-giving. For these, offer a word of thanksgiving.


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