Corporate Prayers of Repentance from Sunday Gathering

Our Sunday Gathering this last week was oriented toward corporate repentance as a church. The message from Acts 11 was focused on repentance, which led us into a time of repentance as a church family.

The best New Testament pattern that we have for corporate repentance is found in Revelation 2-3. We are introduced in those chapters to 7 churches in Asia Minor to which Jesus wrote a letter. These were 7 real churches, whose spiritual deficiencies and dysfunctions together present the church in every generation with a clear idea of what we’re up against. Two of these churches were commended for their faithfulness to and steadfastness in Jesus. But 5 of them had aspects of their church culture which Jesus had against them and for which Jesus calls them to repent. So, we followed the pattern of those 5 churches, which mirror ways in which the church in our own day and in our own land has undoubtedly conformed to the pattern of the world.

Below, we've posted those prayers as we read them together on Sunday.

Based on the Church in Ephesus - A church of loveless orthodoxy:

Leader: We have settled for a Christianity of loveless orthodoxy, instead of centering all our actions around our love for You. We have lost our love, awe, and reverence toward you. We have treated you casually, pushed you to the dusty corner, as if you’re just one competing factor to be considered alongside other factors in our lives. We have played religious games with you, fitting you into the margins of our otherwise busy lives, feeling entitled to your best while giving to you what we have left over. Like Israel before us, we have been a people who draw near to you with our mouths and honor you with our lips, while our hearts are far from you.

Congregation: Lord, Have mercy on us. Forgive us for our unholy posture in our worship of You; for the profaneness of our consumer approach to worship. As if you are a God who provides a service which we purchase or barter for. Forgive us for building churches and cultures which bear your name but are more concerned with market forces than with biblical fidelity. Restore our affections for you, that we would know again the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord, for whom we would suffer the loss of all things, counting them as rubbish that we might gain Christ.

Based on the Church in Pergamum - A church moral compromise:

Leader: Lord, we have abused and made a mockery of the freedom we have in Christ. We have used your sacrifice for our sin, and your grace toward our guilt to be called the “children of God” and obtain everlasting life with you. And even though through your blood we are not of this world, we eagerly assimilate into it and compromise your desires with the world’s desires. We use your grace as an excuse to stay in our sin. We have used your good gifts to excess- we drink and eat to excess, spend to excess, and play to excess; we entertain ourselves to excess, and much of what we’re entertained by, you despise. Forgive us for condoning that which You condemn; for using You to endorse what you hate.

Congregation: Lord, Have mercy on us. Forgive us for abusing the gift of your holiness, which defines those who are hidden in Christ, by neglecting the pursuit of holiness as followers of Christ. Forgive us, Lord, for our friendship with the world which is enmity toward God. Forgive us for our moral compromise and accommodation which makes us feel more at home in the world, and the sin-filled world feel at home in the church. Forgive us for so desiring belonging and influence in the world, that we’ve forfeited our distinctiveness as a people belonging to You. Lead us again into biblical conviction, moral seriousness and the pursuit of holiness. Forgive us for using our freedom in Christ as a cover up for sin, and teach us to steward our freedom, even to lay down our freedoms, to demonstrate the ultimate worth of Christ.

Based on the Church in Thyatira - A church of sexual permissiveness:

Leader: Father, we have conformed to the world in a culture that celebrates and supports sexual expression and sexual immorality over every kind. We have tolerated among ourselves every kind of evil sexual practice. We have normalized sexual immorality in the church, used the Bible to endorse homosexual practice, stayed silent where sexual sin is present, and been more concerned with offending people by upholding sexual integrity, then we are concerned with offending you by our sexual laxity. We have offered our bodies as living sacrifices, in what is truly a spiritual act of worship, to the god of sexual gratification. We have traded intimacy with you, and intimacy with spouse’s, for a fraudulent intimacy that defiles. We have traded purity and integrity for momentary pleasure that leaves us persistently empty. And we have traded our witness and distinctiveness to make the world and us both comfortable in our sin.

Congregation: Lord, Have mercy on us. Forgive us for legitimizing our attractions and appetites on the grounds that they are natural to us. Forgive us for setting before our eyes, as a way of life, things which provoke our lusts. Forgive us for the rampant use of pornography among us; forgive us for a culture of exploitation; forgive us for our untroubled enjoyment of entertainment that defrauds us, and which feeds our flesh. Forgive us for expanding our boundaries so far beyond those you have set, that we can’t even imagine living within your established parameters. Lord, help us urgently return to sexual integrity that honors you and shows an alternative to idolatrous worship of sex. Purify us from all of our deviant, immoral, and perverse abuses of sexuality. Heal our seared consciences and make us sensitive to your standards for us.

Based on the Church in Sardis - A church of dead good works:

Leader: Lord God, we have busied ourselves with religious and social activity; we have given ourselves to projects and causes and programs; we have become activists and advocates for all kinds of things, many of them good. But we have lost sight of you and your gospel within those efforts. We have done good works but forsaken the good news. We have extended grace toward others, but stayed silent about the grace that is only in Jesus. We have presumed to make life better for others, while neglecting the life that is truly life. Lord, we have acted in our own strength to do good for our own name.

Congregation: Lord, have mercy on us. Forgive us for substituting ourselves in your place; for trying to be for people what only you can be for them. Forgive us for all the frenetic activity that is of the flesh and void of the Spirit. Forgive us for undertaking your work but relying on our strategies, our efforts, our wisdom, our organization, and our agendas, rather than upon your power. Forgive our damnable good works that make much of us and which make us feel good about ourselves, but which bring people no closer to you. Lord, lead us back toward reliance upon you in everything. Help us to walk in active repentance and faith and to call others to repentance and faith. We don’t want to just improve peoples lives here on earth, we want them to know the author of life, and to enter into the fullness of life with you. Awaken our evangelistic zeal and help us live for your glory.

Based on the Church in Laodicea - A church of material prosperity:

Leader: Lord, we have loved the comfort, ease of life and material prosperity of this world. We cherish our freedoms, privilege and celebration of self advancement. We confess, Lord, that we have loved the world more than you, and we value our place in the world more than our impact on the world. We have turned your church away from a mission to the lost, and toward a monument to ourselves. We have imported the greed, covetousness, pride, radical individualism and personal comfort of our worldly surroundings into your church. We have tolerated and defended homogeneous churches as the norm, because of social cohesiveness which has no need of you and serves our egos and preferences. We have made impressiveness, production, entertainment value, and organizational prowess our barometers of success. We have happily built environments for people like us and made little consideration for the poor, the marginalized, the immigrant, and the orphan. And we have grieved you.

Congregation: Lord, have Mercy on us. Forgives us for looking down on, keeping a distance from, and insulating ourselves from those who aren't like us. Forgive us for our our defensiveness and dismissiveness toward discrepancies in justice and power in a racialized society. Forgive us for our silence and passivity toward the legal slaughter of innocent human lives. Forgive us for our stinginess and stockpiling of resources while so many suffer around us. Forgive us for seeking prosperity and affluence over equity and fruitfulness. Forgive us for our inattentiveness and unresponsiveness rooted in self-protection of our American Dream, over our obedience to your word. Help us to see our lives from your perspective. To put everything on the table in total surrender to you. Free us from bondage to our conveniences and pleasures, so that we would willingly empty ourselves for you.

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