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Pray Radical: The Power of Brokeness - Pastor David Welch

Updated: May 18, 2022

August 22, 2021

In the third message of the sermon series, Pray Radical: If You Have the Courage, Pastor David reveals the second of four prayers that can have a radical effect in your life.

The Prayer

Psalm 51:7

“Let the bones You have broken rejoice”


Allowing the things that break you to speak reality into you – that you were broken before you knew it. To let them bring a spirit of humility and repentance and dependence into you.

How to Experience the Power of Brokenness:

  1. Believe in mercy

  2. Say the truth about you fully and clearly

  3. Ask God to cleanse you

  4. Pursue Him for being made new

  5. Begin to live in brokenness before Him

vs 17 -- “a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart”

Verses to Study

Psalm 51:6-8 (NASB)

Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being…Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

Psalm 51:16-17 (NASB)

For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

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If you have the courage - make praying radically a daily spiritual practice. What is the third prayer; Oh God, cleanse me and forgive me of my sin, purify me. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

David Welch

The Spirit of God is moving in this place. I think God has spoken into our hearts and lives already. just thrilled, we've worshiped and pray. Now we're going to turn to the Word of God and get more in this series. As you know, this series is called Pray Radical, if you have the courage. Wait until you hear and then and then decide if you want to pray radical. So, we're into the third message of the series, and we’re about to start the second radical prayer of these four prayers. I read about a doctor from Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles who had grown really frustrated with the fact that they could not get their staff above an 80% compliance with their hand washing protocol. Now, this was actually several years ago. And so, they tried everything, all the stuff: gifts, Starbucks cards, and all kinds of incentives; yet they could never get their compliance above 80%. Then one day, an epidemiologist surprised a group of 20 doctors who were at lunch in the hospital cafeteria. As they were exiting the lunchroom, the epidemiologist took petri dishes and asked each one of them to place their hand in an individual petri dish. And then they took those dishes to the lab, and let the cultures develop. And what they saw when the petri dishes were completely cultured, they were shocked. There was an overwhelming number of bacteria that was present on those dishes. In fact, they developed them, took photos of them, they did something with that. But when they were completed, they were overwhelmed by the number of bacteria on these doctors’ hands. I mean, imagine being one of those doctors and realizing that your own hands; the same hands that would examine a patient later that day, not to mention the same hands that just ate burgers and fries, in the hospital cafeteria; those same hands were hosting an unbelievable amount of bacteria. I mean, it was gross and revolting to see the image. In fact, here's how they changed everything. One of the filthiest images of all, they made an image of it, and they turned it into a screensaver for the computer network of the hospital. It appeared on everyone's home screen every time they logged in. And in fact, here's is the actual image. Take a look at it. Yecch, that's exactly right. But suddenly, hand hygiene compliance rose to all most 100% in one fell swoop. And that is an illustration of the human heart. That's, that's illustration of your heart and mind, especially in our inner life, our inner self. We know there is stuff in us that could potentially not be good. We know that there's stuff that could hurt us inside of us or hurt someone around us. But as long as we can distract ourselves from that thought with other thoughts or just bombard myself with stimuli, then I don't have to think about it, just push the reality about me to the back of my mind. Here's what works; just don't tell me the truth about myself. Then we can live just like the hospital doctors. I know bacteria exist; I know that it can be on a doctor's hands. I know that it could harm a patient and if a doctor’s hands are properly cleansed, that's what will happen; but it but it's probably not so bad on my hands. What changed that entire culture in Cedars Sinai Hospital? They saw their own hands; they saw what was on their own hands. And we as a fellowship in this series, we are in the same process. I mean, this, this is not academic stuff here. This is about invading our lives with biblical truth with the spirit of God's power in us. And so, it takes some courage not just to pray these prayers, but to sit through the teaching of these prayers. And we're in the same process, we sincerely are saying to God, we want to see our hands; we want to see ourselves in reality. And we want to move us to a kind of experience with God that he wants to do in us. I've been saying it through these messages, it's sort of an underlying subtext, right? I'm going to say it again, we live in a generational moment, where most people who claim to be Christ followers don't really look a lot different than those who say, I don't believe in God at all. And there is a reason for that. And that is because these radical prayers aren't in our life, these radical desires, this word of God calls on us, just aren't in our life. And so, we're just saying, as a fellowship us together, we're saying, we want God to invade us. We want him to invade our inner lives and change us from the inside out over time, day by day, but radically so. We want to be transformed into who is promised that he can make us and. It takes some courage to actually turn to these biblical radical prayers and stay with them until they begin to affect who we are. And so, we've said, the answer is found in the kind of prayers, you're willing to pray. And these four can affect our life, if we have the courage to sincerely walk with them, until they begin to change us; if we stay with them long enough for them to work in us. And the first of those, we introduced the series and the first prayer, a couple of messages ago. We finished up that first prayer last time. Psalm 139, the first radical prayer is this: “Search me, O God”, and everything that that means from Psalm 139.

Now we move to a second one, and the second one is just as weighty; just as heavy. And so, Psalm 51, picking up some selected verses out of it, in order for us to see the focus of this prayer, and that is Psalm 51, beginning in verse six, the psalmist says there, “Behold, God, you desire truth in the innermost being.” And verse seven, so purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean, wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow, make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which are broken, rejoice.” All the way down to verse 16, where it all culminates, verse 16,” For you, God you do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; you are not pleased with burnt offerings.” Those were the typical external ways to worship God. It's like saying, God coming into a worship service and singing a song doesn't please you. Or sitting through a sermon that's too long doesn't please you. Verse 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart; Oh God, you will not despise.”

So right you get it this Psalm is from King David, the ancient king of Israel. And, for a lot of you, you know where this comes from. Some of you don't know, let's just sort of walk through it again, because you need this in your heart in order to apply the principles. Remember the arc of David's life. His life starts as a little insignificant shepherd boy on the backside of Bethlehem, and never to be known by anyone, the least of his family. But suddenly he is he is catapulted into celebrity because he is a giant killer. I mean, he did what was most effective, he took what was small, he took, he took a little weapon against a big weapon, he, he crouched low, instead of standing large and he fired a stone right into the forehead of Goliath and he became this instant celebrity. And from there, he became king over Hebron, and then over all of Israel, after great struggle and, and faithfulness in his life. And so, as a king and a military leader, he conquered their enemies, he made their borders safe, he built wealth for their nation and for himself, and he was presumably at the peak of his success. And in that success, one night he was just feeling restless, and he couldn't sleep, and he walked out onto the terrace, out onto the balcony of his palace, and he sees a woman. And he wanted her, and he sent for her, and it was Bathsheba. He slept with her, and she became pregnant. And suddenly David had to cover that up. I mean, he is a king and a theocracy. He's got to cover that out. And so, when he called her husband back from the front lines, he couldn't get Uriah to go home actually, and spend the night with his wife because of Uriah’s loyalty that he felt for his brothers on the front line fighting against the Philistines. And so, David gets a bit desperate, and he just begins to conspire, and so he orders to have Uriah murdered on the front line; he has Uriah put on the front line and then withdraws troops. In doing so, he has him murdered; he ordered the murder of one of his most devoted mighty men. And then he quickly marries Bathsheba to cover it all up. And it worked. Weeks go by, months go by, it had to be at least a year later. David has not allowed himself to think about those issues at all in his life, until the moment that a prophet named Nathan came to visit him. Nathan tells him the story of a rich man with vast numbers of sheep, who has a visitor that came to him unexpectedly for dinner. And so, he actually takes the one and only little lamb of an extremely poor man. The lamb was so dear, it was like a pet. He takes that lamb and slaughters it, butchers it, and they have dinner from that lamb. And David becomes infuriated by the callousness, the utter selfishness of this wealthy man. And then Nathan says, (and it was with the full force of the Spirit of God just flowing into David's heart) in that moment, Nathan says, David, you're that man. And in that moment, David sees his own hands. He wasn't just capable of sexual abuse, or murder or corruption. He was an abuser, he was a murderer, he was a fully corrupt leader. And he was broken by it. And then suddenly something in him gave him the courage to pray a radical prayer. And that is the whole of Psalm 51; that's all of Psalm 51. But Psalm 51 leads somewhere spiritually; Psalm 51, is actually going somewhere. And Psalm 51 should go somewhere in your life, as well. And it culminates in two places, verse 7 and verse 17, where he says, “Let the bones that you have broken, rejoice,” verse 17, “and that the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.” And somehow, from that prayer of break me, break me, oh, God, somehow out of praying that he experienced forgiveness. And he experiences his cleansing, and he experiences a new heart. And he, he experiences a renewed inner self, and he experiences a steadfast, willing, and obedient spirit. And all of that comes as a result of the brokenness, from that prayer. He walks into an experience of brokenness. That's what this prayer will do in your life.

This is the prayer number two that we should call, and they should we should bring into our life. It's heavy, and it's hard, and it takes courage to pray it, but it's transformational. So, let's even describe what it is. Let's be very clear, let's put up the definition. Let's put up the definition of brokenness in this context. We use brokenness in a lot of different ways; we call brokenness our sinfulness and we call it all other sorts of things. Here it is spiritually as a renewal experience in our life, an experience that will change us. So, the definition of brokenness is this. It's allowing the things that break you to speak to you; it's allowing the things that break you to speak reality into you. And its speaking is this, look it's making you say you were broken before you knew it. And is to let those things that break you. to let them bring a spirit of humility, repentance, and dependence into you, that will make you supremely spiritually strong. And so, David has renovated from the inside out. In these 18 verses, David is completely renewed, he learns the power of praying from brokenness, and for it in his life. So, here's the question, how did he get there? How did he come to experience the power of brokenness in his life? Psalm 51 teaches us how that happened in David's life, and, and it can just apply straight up into your life. Every principle is an application. There are these five movements in this; there are five things that happened in David, which brings him to this healing place of brokenness. And I want us to follow them, because I want you and me to follow them in our lives. Do not detach yourself from this.

The first thing that happened for David, and that must happen in you for brokenness to culminate in brokenness that heals you is this. The first thing is this, you have got to believe in mercy. The first thing David does is he believes in mercy. Now, Psalm 51, is this exquisite writing. And at every stage, David writes, in a series of threes, you are going to see that all the way through this incredible writing. And so, it is in verse one. So, what does he pray for, at the very beginning? For God to remember to be gracious, to be merciful, or gracious to me, oh, God, according to and, and it flows. And there are these three synonymous or similar words. With the use of these three synonyms David is appealing to something in God, and those words are “be gracious to me, Oh, God, according to your loving kindness, according to the greatness of your compassion.” His grace, his loving kindness, his compassion, all of those three words are facets of this; the mercy of God, that God is full of mercy. He's asking forgiveness for something that the Old Testament law actually had no provision of forgiveness for, right? Adultery and murder, or sexual abuse, and murder; both of those were punishable by death. It was written into the Old Testament law. David doesn't appeal to the law for his remedy. Instead, he turns to God's character that's unchanging, from Genesis to Revelation, from the beginning to the end, from the Old Testament to you and me, that doesn't change. We appeal to the character of God, and the character of God is his love, mercy, compassion, and grace. And so, he actually believes in mercy; we give lip service to it. A lot of us give lip service to God's mercy. We say yes, we believe in God's mercy. Now what do I have to do to work up to getting His mercy? But it's a free gift, when we turn to him and depend on him. And so, he turns to God's character. And he gets that it is his only hope. And that is exactly why God shows us who he is through Jesus. God shows us that He gives it to us in this unmistakable way through Jesus. Ephesians two, verse four, “but God, being rich, in mercy because of his great love with which he has loved us, he poured out His grace on us through Christ. He made us alive in Christ, and he pours his love out on us in Christ.” And so, you have got to be convinced that mercy is God's nature. There is the point. It is who He is; it is how He responds when you humble yourself before Him when you turn to him and completely depend on him for that mercy. And David begins there, and you must begin there too, for brokenness to be healing in you and not destructive.

Number two, the second step for David was verses three and four, they just flow, verses three and four. He just said the truth about himself; David said the truth about himself fully and clearly. Verses three and four, I know my transgressions. And my sin is ever before me, and against you, and only you, I have sinned and done what is evil in your sight. David is just saying the truth about himself. And again, in the cycle of threes. Here he is using three words to describe the truth about himself. Did you hear him say transgressions, his sin and he has done what is evil in God's sight day in verse six. David goes on to say, I know that you desire truth in the innermost being. He is just saying, look, this process never kick starts; it never starts until you are willing to say the truth about yourself fully and clearly. Just say the truth about the condition of my heart and my inner life. And David, and David is saying it, I am full of transgression, and sin, and evil. And what is absent in his saying is any excuse for it. What is absent is any justification, any mitigating circumstances or blaming of others. He fully and clearly said, what was true about his own inner life, and brokenness never heals us until we can say the truth about ourselves fully, and clearly. There is nothing more important than this in producing a healthy life-giving kind of brokenness. There is a brokenness that can destroy you; there is a brokenness that can end in despair. But there is also a brokenness that can be life-giving and healing. And this is the process to the life-giving kind. This is how you defeat all the denial in you; this is how you stop all the superficial living in you. This is how you can make it clear to yourself that you cannot fix you. This is how you come to admit and fully believe only God can heal what is broken, and you just say the truth about you clearly and completely.

Then there is a third, beginning in verse seven. Look, this is a process toward brokenness that heals you. And David is just flowing through this process. And the third thing he does is that he asks for cleansing. This is more than simply saying, God, would you forgive me? He is asking for cleansing, He's asking for the cleansing of what guilt does to you, to be washed away. And so, in verse seven, he says, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean, wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Verse nine, “Hide your face from my sins and blot out my iniquities.” And here is the third cycle of three. He is naming the cleansing process, in his life. And so, he is saying, purify me, wash me, and blot out my iniquities. To purify with hyssop is, is the worship process in the Old Testament, where after a sacrifice of an animal for your sin, the priest would take this, hyssop branch and dip it into the blood, and he would actually sprinkle it on you. And that sprinkling represented that cleansing power of God's forgiveness; not just forgiveness but washing clean; that is the removal of guilt. Look, our culture does not have it right with guilt. Our culture says, no shame ever, ever, never. The only people that that you should ever shame are the ones who are shamers. If they are shamers, they can be shamed, but you should never, ever, ever feel any shame. Let me tell you, the Spirit of God says there is a bunch of stuff that you ought to make you be ashamed. But he has a remedy for it, and that is His mercy, expressed in his forgiveness and cleansing. To wash me, then blot out my iniquities. To blot out is the picture of an ancient papyrus that has some writing on it that they do not need any more, then they had a process of erasing it, to blot it out and write a new story. The Bible says if this is not heavy to you, then you do not get the heaviness of your sin. The Bible says your sin is serious, and if you get how serious it is, the guilt of it would feel overwhelming. The path of destruction that our sin creates is so significant, that it's overwhelming to know everything it causes. The deal is we either deny it is there; we don't look at it, or we don't get how serious our sin actually is. And so, it's asking God, look what cleansing is, you're asking God to pay the price that you owe for your sin. You're asking him to sacrifice Jesus, for what you have done. And it cleanses you. It is the remedy for guilt. Atonement is the answer for guilt, not denial, not denying that it's even there. Atonement is the answer for guilt.

There is a fourth thing; getting heavy enough yet for you? I wish I had a joke for you. So, but I'm not a very funny preacher. So, I don't, I can't. Number four, ready? Then the fourth thing is, he began to pursue being made new; pursue him for being made new. That's what he's doing in verses 10,11, and 12. He says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me”, verse 12, “restore to me the joy of your salvation, sustain a willing spirit in me.” And there it is. It's this, this series of three and it happens again, he's asking God to do this process in him. And so, he asks, in these three words, create something, renew something, and restore something. He's describing all the same process, there are three words that say the same thing. It just gives them full meaning. And so, David is not just asking for guilt relief; David is drilling down into his spiritual life. He's asking to be deeply changed from the inside out. Why? This is because once you get to know the depth of sin in you, you'll come to the very same place that he does. He now knows his heart is so dark, that asking forgiveness is not going to ultimately heal him. He will be forgiven, but it's not going to ultimately heal him. Because he knows that his heart has to be transformed for him not to just go back and repeat the same old wash cycle. And so, he's desperate to change and brokenness is coming into his life. And so, he prays create in me, God, a clean heart, renew, and restore. You create a clean heart, what happens is your spirit gets renewed, and joy is restored in your life. Create in me a clean heart. The word create means to create something out of nothing, actually, it's a really basic word. In fact, it's the word used in the first verse of the Bible. When the Bible says in the beginning God created. He made something out of literal nothingness. Recreate brand new, my heart, God. The elements of that recreated and clean heart will be a renewed and steadfast spirit, Verse 10, no more distance between me and God, verse 11, and then joy is restored, which produces a determined and willing and obedient spirit. It's change. And so, he pursues being made new as a part of the process of learning to live in healing brokenness, which takes him to the last the last phase of it. Then in verse 15, he begins to live in it; he just begins to live in brokenness, but a brokenness that heals him. He just begins to live in brokenness before his Father, but it's a sweet brokenness. Verse 15, oh, Lord, open my lips. It's, it's a work of God's Spirit to open my lips and my mouth and declare your praise. Verse 16, for you do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; you're not pleased with burn offerings. He's saying this external worship that I offer you all by itself is empty. It's got to mean something on the inside. The sacrifices in verse 17 :(This is the culmination of it.) All the sacrifice says of God, are a broken spirit and a broken and contrite heart, oh God, you will not despise, meaning that's the worship. That's the worship. That's the worship that you embrace, God. It's a new way of seeing God and a new way of relating to God, which is beginning to emerge in, in David, and suddenly he's worshiping God, in this absolutely new and different way. He's just saying, the way I live toward God and, and my devotion toward him, and the way that I will worship Him will be from a new spirit. And it will be from a spirit of brokenness. No more stubbornness to have my own way, it's broken in me.

Now I want to be practical, applicable. And I want to draw a sword through your heart. In just the next moment, let's do all of that at once. Let's, let's just describe applied brokenness lived out; applied, brokenness lived out. Take everything that you've just learned, everything that you've just heard, and now apply it to your life. What should that look like? It should look like a set of attitudes. Let me name those attitudes. Number one, you carry this attitude - an awareness that you're worse than you think. Just start carrying that attitude; you're ready to stop covering it up. You're ready to stop believing the lies you tell yourself about yourself and say the truth to yourself. You know what, I have a second attitude, you become willing to continually tear down your own pride, your own self-promotion, your own self sufficiency, you'll never come to live in brokenness, without you, aggressively tearing down your own pride, your own self-promotion, your own self-sufficient. Rather, carry this attitude that you come to believe that God is full of mercy. And that his mercy is your only hope for forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration. It means this, that you know, and you feel, and you just live out of it: God doesn't owe you anything for any reason. There's a lot of people who show up at church, they're showing up for church in order to obligate God, to see if they can obligate God to do something for them. Because look what I'm doing for you, you owe me, God. It means that you know that there's nothing you could do to make up for your sin before him. There's no provision for you to work your way back to God's approval. It is his mercy and his grace, only. The fourth attitude, you believe that he can recreate your heart, that he can remake it from scratch. And you surrender to that process every day, allowing God's Spirit to reformat who you are.

Now, I'm going to say it again faster, as a spiritual practice, brokenness, is not just as a set of attitudes, but brokenness is a spiritual practice. So, what will I do every day to live in brokenness? What will I do every day? Number one, I will humble myself before the Father, and my worship will be from my brokenness, I will humble myself, everything I've already described, it's all packed into there, I'm going to break my own self, I'm going to break my own stubbornness. I'm going to humble myself before the Father every day, and my worship will be from brokenness. Number two, as a spiritual practice, I'll continually confess and abandon my pride and my stubbornness, and my independent spirit. Number three, every day, I will admit that I'm vulnerable to harmful things. I'm capable of the worst. And I'll believe that so that it'll motivate me to run in the opposite direction. Number four, I'll surrender my agenda. I'll surrender my plans for my life. Every day to him.

Here's the last word and then Eber is going to come out and sing over you. To give you some moments in God's presence to just work out brokenness. But I want you to see this last word. It's Isaiah 57:15. I want to show you where, where God lives; where is His presence found. The Bible says this for that says the high and exalted one, God who lives forever, whose name is holy. So where does God live? I dwell on a high and holy place. He is above all of the universe. I dwell on a high and holy place. And also, I dwell with the contrite and lowly of spirit. That's where he lives in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. I'm going to ask us to bow together. And I'm going to ask you to attach to everything you've heard here. Eber is going to sing the prayer over you. I'm asking you to turn your heart toward the Spirit of God. Let him speak. Believe in his mercy. Say the truth about you. Ask him for cleansing turn to being made new, pledge to live in brokenness.

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