[#pictureLent] Mar. 18: A Clean Heart and a Faithful Spirit

By Erick Ashley
Killearn UMC, Tallahassee, FL

First, read Psalm 51:10-12

This psalm, attributed to David, is said to follow the time where David took Bathsheba, she became pregnant and David had Uriah killed after David’s other schemes didn't work out. This is where King David, one who is called “a man after God’s heart,” finds himself when he penned this psalm.

King David had nothing left but to throw himself before God and beg for mercy. And in the first part of this psalm that is exactly what David does. David appeals to God’s extravagant, unfailing, long-suffering love.

It’s easy to see David’s sin as he ignored two biggies of the Ten Commandments. But what’s more difficult to see is our sin that creeps into our lives like the extra padding on my waistline. Each day when our feet hit the floor, we should call out to God like David, “Create a clean heart for me, God; put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me.”

I'm learning that for me to best experience God's life-giving grace, it includes a daily time in the scriptures, in prayer and in silence. Over the past year or so, my practices have followed Steve Harper’s A Pocket Guide To Prayer. In that time, reading the hymns as poetry has become a special means of grace and Charles Wesley’s, O For A Heart To Praise My God, (UMH 417) is one of my favorites. Written in 1742, it was Wesley’s response to the words of Psalm 51. In it, he shares his interpretation of what a clean heart and a faithful spirit might look like.

O for a heart to praise my God,
a heart from sin set free,
a heart that always feels thy blood
so freely shed for me.
A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
my great Redeemer’s throne,
where only Christ is heard to speak,
where Jesus reigns alone.
A humble, lowly, contrite heart
believing, true, and clean,
which neither life nor death can part
from Christ who dwells within.
A heart in every thought renewed
and full of love divine,
perfect and right and pure and good,
a copy, Lord, of thine.
Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart;
come quickly from above;
write thy new name upon my heart,
thy new, best name of Love.

Prayer: Saving and Sustaining God, I seek your forgiveness, mercy and grace. I need you to re-create me. Give me a new heart and a reshaped life. Draw me closer to you, in order to be sustained by your life giving grace. I need you in order to have breath and life in my soul.

Discussion Questions

  1. What sin is creeping into your life?
  2. What spiritual practices help you hear from God?
  3. How might you remember God’s grace this Lent?