Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Psalm 51:10-12
After acknowledging his sin and praying to God for mercy and forgiveness for the sake of the coming Redeemer, David also prayed that God would create in him a clean heart to replace his sinful and wicked heart and renew in him a faithful and steadfast spirit which would hold fast to God and His Word and walk in His ways.
He prays that God would not cast him away from His presence and not take from him the Holy Spirit who creates and preserves faith in the Savior. Sin separates from God, but David prays that God would forgive his sins and restore in him the joy of God’s salvation and uphold him and keep him in the true and saving faith through the working of His generous Spirit.
We confess our sins to the Lord and ask for His mercy and forgiveness for the sake of Christ Jesus and His atoning sacrifice upon the cross (cf. 1 John 1:7 – 2:2), but do we pray that God would purify our hearts and desires? Do we ask that God not cast us away but change our hearts and minds by His Holy Spirit that we might desire and walk in the ways of the Lord?
Often, we desire God’s mercy and forgiveness but we have little desire for a change of heart, for God to create in us a clean heart which loves Him and desires to walk in His ways and live according to His Word. We wish to be spared from the punishment we deserve on account of our sins, but we do not truly wish to forsake our sins and live in accord with God’s perfect will, revealed to us in His Word.
Remembering that the end result of living in our sinful ways is death – both physical and eternal – shouldn’t we cling in faith to Christ who won for us eternal life and seek to walk in His ways? After all, Christ did not die for us so that we could continue on in our sinful ways; He died for us that we might be pardoned and forgiven and live for Him in accord with His Word (cf. Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Ephesians 2:8-10).
And so, with David, we pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]