God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV) Back in the 12th century there was a monk by the name of Bernard of Clairvaux. He was asked by a friend to write a book on humility. Bernard said he didn’t know enough about humility...
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. Isaiah 64:6
When you pray, you will feel your unworthiness. We all do. Coming into a holy place makes you feel how unholy you are. Isaiah knew about this too, and he describes it using four pictures (64:6):
1. The Leper. “We have all become like one who is unclean.”
The leper was outside the camp of Israel. He could not approach the presence of God. So Isaiah says, “I come as someone who has no right to enter the presence of God.”
2. The Rags. “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”
Even the best things that we do, like ministry and service, are not as good as they seem. Augustine said that he did not want to present the works of his hands to God for fear that God might find more sins in them than merits.
3. The Leaf. “We all fade like a leaf.”
Isaiah felt worn out when he came to God in prayer. “I’m like a dry leaf. I feel drained of energy, lacking in life. I feel as if I have nothing left to give.”
4. The Wind. “Our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
That’s a picture of the power of sin. It sweeps us away. Here we are struggling with the same sins and not gaining victory. We’re not prevailing over the world; the world is prevailing over us.
When Isaiah comes to God, he feels unclean, unrighteous, dried out, and unstable. And this is our condition too when we come to pray.
Which of these pictures do you identify with the most as you come to God in prayer?