The House Of My Soul Is Narrow

O Lord,
The house of my soul is narrow;
enlarge it that you may enter in.
It is ruinous, O repair it!
It displeases Your sight.
I confess it, I know.
But who shall cleanse it,
to whom shall I cry but to you?
Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord,
and spare Your servant from strange sins.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

The word picture Augustine uses to describe the state of his soul brings to mind a musty old basement so filled with cobwebs and dirt and old boxes and various other pieces of junk that you can hardly find a place to walk. As soon as you open the door and look inside, you know that it will take hours upon hours of hard work to make it usable. Perhaps Augustine chose that word picture because he knew that spiritual growth is a long-term process that will not be completed until we see the Lord face to face.

But praise God that He is able to cleanse and repair our souls! This “extreme home makeover” is no problem for Him! He will even get rid of the junk we can’t see! The last two lines of the prayer are a quote from Psalm 19:

Who can discern his errors?
  Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
  may they not rule over me.
  Then will I be blameless,
  innocent of great transgression.

- Psalm 19:12-13 (NIV)

This passage reminds me of 1 John 1:9:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

– 1 John 1:9 (NIV)

Obviously, I’m only able to confess the sins I see. But God promises here to purify me from ALL unrighteousness in my life, not just the unrighteousness I see. If I come to Him in repentance whenever I’m aware of sin in my life, He will be faithful to get rid of the dirt I can’t see. Even if it takes the long-term process of spiritual growth, I can have complete confidence that He will make me clean and usable for His glory.

Breathe In Me, Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, Holy Spirit, that all my thoughts may be holy.
Act in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.

– Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Augustine, bishop of Hippo in what is now Algeria, is one of the most influential figures in all of church history. He was a theological giant whose teachings are considered foundational by Protestants and Catholics alike. His prayer quoted above seems to me to be a fitting one to start off the new year. Though it is short, it clearly expresses a strong desire to please God in every area of life, both in attitude and in action. It also expresses a clear recognition that we cannot do this on our own, but must depend on the Holy Spirit to accomplish this in and through us.

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
– 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT)

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
– John 15:5 (NLT)

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won?t be doing what your sinful nature craves… But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit?s leading in every part of our lives.
– Galatians 5:16, 22-25 (NLT)

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