Exercise: Getting Out of the Blame Game

A follow-up exercise for the Montgomery County National Day of Prayer.

Earlier this morning, I had the opportunity to present a talk at the Montgomery County National Day of Prayer Virtual Prayer Breakfast. I shared from the heart about some of the struggles I’ve been having building better “habits of the heart” during this pandemic, and challenged listeners to practice building better habits with me.

The complete talk will be released on our podcast soon, but in the mean time, I want to offer a prayer and reflection exercise you can use to turn your frustration, blame or resentment into constructive, Kingdom-centered action when the time of quarantine is over.

MovE from Assigning Blame to Assuming Responsibility

This prayer and reflection guide is somewhat personal to me, and has challenged me to grow in difficult and specific ways over the course of my Christian life. I offer it to you to use as you will.

1) Praise

One day, every secret will be revealed. One day, every injustice will be made right. The low places will be made high, the crooked places will be made straight, the dead lost in the sea will be found, and every tongue will confess the glory of God—even the ones that confess and tremble.

Spend time intentionally praising God for the fact that the things that upset us and anger us are temporary, and that he has already secured for us a world where this kind of suffering will be made right.

2) Confess

As Jesus’ hands and feet, there are a great many things we are called to do on his behalf in this world—but sit upon his judgment throne isn’t one of them. Yet we still deal with that impulse, that desire to call down justice on our time rather than waiting on the Day of the Lord. Confess to God that, on some level, you may be trying to usurp his place on the Judgment Throne, and ask for his forgiveness and for the help of the Holy Spirit in intentionally removing yourself from that seat.

3) Reflect and Identify

In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us that if we have sinned against someone, it is up to us to go to them and seek reconciliation.

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells us that if someone has sinned against us, it is up to us to go to them and seek reconciliation.

For Christians, who started it doesn’t matter. If there’s a manifestation of sin that touches us, that’s a manifestation of sin that we are called to heal. The next step in this process is to reflect, meditate and pray about ways that you may have contributed to the very thing that makes you angry, or contributed to an environment that made it possible. 

This is the point at which you should probably bring in other people who know you well. Share with them the confession you made in step two, and ask for their insight and their prayer as you attempt to discover where God is calling you to do more than just be angry, but to actually be part of healing.

4) Repent Accountably

There’s a difference between confession and repentance: Confession is acknowledging that you’re driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Repentance is actually turning the car around and driving the right way.

Christians aren’t called to just confess our sin, but to follow confession with repentance. Now that we have identified specific ways we may have contributed to the very things that anger us, or ways in which we helped foster an environment that made them possible, the next step is living in ways that help heal the things that we helped break. Through reflection, discussion with others and prayer, take your first guess at how God might be calling you to respond to this brokenness, and ask for accountability from your brothers and sisters as you step into this new effort.

It’s important to also be flexible: You may get things wrong at first, and your plan might turn out to be miscalculated. Your goal isn’t to fix everything, but instead to begin stepping out into the world in faith, trusting that even though we still only see in part and only understand in part, we serve a God who will lead us forward in a more excellent way until he makes us perfect when the Kingdom comes.

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  • Rick Barry is Executive Director of Center for Christian Civics, where he helps ministry leaders and faith communities develop missional approaches to their local public squares. He has worked on campaigns for local, state and federal office, is a former writer and editor for Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and oversaw communications for the Grace DC church network. He and his wife live in Washington, DC.

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