Prepare to listen. Remind yourself God is present, closer to you than you are to yourself. Pray: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me (Ps 51:10).
Read Psalm 51:10-17
10Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
11Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit.
13Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
14Deliver me from bloodshed, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
16For you have no delight in sacrifice;
if I were to give a burnt-offering, you would not be pleased.
17The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
‘The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.’ It takes courage to offer God a broken spirit, a contrite heart. It’s so much easier to sacrifice something concrete—deny myself chocolate, make-up, social media, that sort of thing. A broken and contrite heart goes against popular beliefs. Contemporary psychology teaches us to avoid broken spirits and broken hearts, at all costs. It sounds too much like we’d be undermining our self-esteem, destroying our ability to live confidently and boldly to achieve our full potential. As a result, we no longer know what it means to be broken and neither do we know how to do it. We’re out of practice.
The Hebrew understanding of broken has little to do with low self-esteem. It has more to do with things like being contrite, sorry and humble, the opposite of pride and putting myself forward. Broken means having a sense of my sin, being deeply sorry (penitent) and humble enough to own up and confess before God so that I receive healing and power to change. Practicing ‘broken in spirit and heart,’ is practicing confession and penitence (a genuine sorrow for sin). This is the attitude God desires to see in us and it’s an attitude that God alone can help us acquire.
What do you think is necessary for you to be able to offer to God a broken and contrite heart?
Respond to God in prayer
Help me, O Lord God, to practice a broken and contrite spirit so that my whole life is pleasing and honoring to you. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world, with a new and right spirit.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.