A Prayer for Greater Freedom from Shame
And the man and his wife were both naked and were unashamed. Gen. 2:25
Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb. 12:1-2
Gracious Father, it’s nearly impossible for me to imagine there was a day when the emotion of shame did not exist. In their innocence, our first parents were absolutely free of any need to turn away from your gaze, or from the gaze of one another. There was no need to fear, cover up, hide, pose, pretend, get defensive, feel guilty, make excuses, blame the other, want to disappear, do penance, numb out, medicate, or try any other broken attempt to deal with the disintegrating effects of shame.
It is only in you, Lord Jesus, that we now find hope to deal with both our guilt and our shame. For in light of the joy set before you by the Father, you endured the agony of the cross for us, scorning, despising, disregarding its shame—giving the shame of such a vilifying death no ultimate defining power over you. You took the shame of being made sin for us, that in you we might become the righteousness of God (Heb. 12:2; 2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus, you shamed shame! What glory, what grace, what majesty, what mercy!
And NOW, those who trust in you don’t have to be defined by shame and will never be put to shame, for you took our guilt and shame and made them yours (1 Pet. 2:6). And NOW we are living in the present and eternal favor of God—his steadfast love and great delight. How can we ever praise you enough for such —for such a rich standing in grace and such a deep rootedness in love?
Therefore, Jesus, we cry out for freedom today—freedom in our ongoing struggles with shame, both the shame we feel and the shame we give. Though our guilt has been completely taken care of by your work on the cross, Jesus, we still feel varying degrees of shame, and we act out in a variety of destructive ways. We need grace upon grace—a deeper healing, a greater liberation.
We vacillate between self-contempt and other-centered contempt, and both of these contradict and sabotage the love by which, and for which, we were saved. Free us from thinking our sin is beyond the reach of your grace. Free us from acting as though other people’s sins are beyond the deserving of your grace.
Free us from importing past failures and future fears into our present moment. Free us from holding ourselves and other’s hostage to the destructive power of shame. Free us from not believing the gospel, Lord Jesus, for ourselves and others. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and triumphant name.