I have been praying the daily office from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) recently. I LOVE fixed-hour prayers like this. I love all the scripture and prayers. I love the collects for various things. I love the regularity of it. It is nice to have something in place to fall back on for those days when I do not feel like praying much.
One thing that has really enchanted me recently is the confession of sin. I have always loved it when I had heard it or gone out of my way to say it before, but it is even more meaningful now that I am saying it everyday at least twice a day. One part of it in particular caught my attention. First, here’s the confession of sin from the BCP:
Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have erred and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep,
we have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts,
we have offended against they holy laws,
we have left undone those things which we ought to have done,
and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.
But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
spare thou those who confess their faults,
restore thou those who are penitent,
according to they promises declared unto mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord;
and grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life,
to the glory of they holy name. Amen.
I have bolded the line from the confession of sin that has particularly caught my attention lately. One day early on when I started doing the daily office, I was struck by this line.
“have I really followed too much the devices and desires of my own heart? I sure don’t feel like I have….”
I have worried for a while that I have been too worrisome of what others think of me. I have been people-pleasy and have even lied to myself. I held a few jobs early on in my adult life that I hated, but could not bring myself to admit that to myself. How can I follow too much the devices and desires of my own heart if I can’t even be honest with myself about hating a job?
It was at that moment I felt the Holy Spirit suggest that maybe it is also a sin to follow not enough the devices and desires of our own hearts. If God has placed something good and beautiful and true on our hearts than to ignore that is a sin. If he made us – inclined us – toward something and we resist that in some way that would be a sin.
And so, I find myself still praying this confession of sin at least twice daily, but I also add in the line: “and we have followed not enough the devices and desires of our own hearts.”