When revival is needed
“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (See Psalm 51, RSV).
You know the story of King David. I’m not talking about the one where he killed the giant with a slingshot. I’m thinking of the story that tells us about his adultery with Bathsheba, and his attempt to cover-up his failure by having Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, killed (2 Samuel 11-12).
As king, he apparently thought he could get away with anything. God sent a prophet by the name of Nathan to confront David. Psalm 51 records the prayer David prayed when he stood, guilty and exposed, before God and in need of personal revival. David’s confession was personal. He did not attempt to evade his guilt. He mentioned sin 14 times in his prayer! For confession to be personal we must have knowledge of what our sin is. It is missing the mark (sin). It is breaking God’s law (transgression). It is allowing our thinking to become twisted (iniquity). We must also have some awareness of God’s awesome holiness (see verses 4, 6). Then we must embrace personal responsibility for our actions.
David uses the personal pronouns “I/me/my” 34 times in his confession – he is not attempting to escape his own failure. This kind of real confession does not come easily. Too often we might pray, “Lord, forgive me if I have sinned.” We have sinned – in thought, word, and deed. We have sinned by what we have done and by what we have not done. We must be honest with ourselves, honest to God, and allow our confession to become personal if we want forgiveness and revival. David’s petitions were powerful (1-2, 7-12).
His requests were specific- “Blot out.” “Wash me.” “Purge me.”
His prayer was like our hymn – “Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” He asked God to make him hear “joy and gladness” once again.
He wanted his Heavenly Father to “create a clean heart and a right spirit” within. He asked that the “joy of thy salvation” might be restored. And here’s a real key: David refers to “God/Thee/Thy” no less than 32 times in this prayer! David’s motive was practical (13-19). He was not seeking to become a “spiritual giant”. His desire was to be a useful servant for his Lord. Forgiveness, cleansing, and revival empower us to fulfill our calling. When we are in a right relationship with God we can say with David, “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways”. Personal forgiveness and cleansing encourage us to see other sinners come to Christ (13b). Only when people see our real joy in the Lord will our testimony be convincing.
We are witnesses – which depends upon being in a faithful relationship with the One for whom we bear witness. When revival is needed, for an individual, a church, or a community, confession, cleansing, prayer, and commitment are essential.
Dr. Faught is Pastor of The LaFollette United Methodist Church