Two Ways to Plumb the Depths of the Ten Commandments
On Sunday, May 2, we focused on some of the last words that Jesus spoke before he was crucified. There, in the upper room, he said to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my Commandments.” As our Lord faced his own impending death, it’s clear that one of his primary concerns was that we, his followers, would hold fast to his commandments. But what does this actually look like? How do we go about “plumbing the depths” of what he has commanded?
First, I want to encourage you to begin (or, recommit yourself to) the habit of meeting with God daily by reading His Word and responding with prayer. This is how we converse with God: first, he speaks to us through the pages of Scripture, and, having listened, we then respond in prayer. Now, a rich prayer life will consist of many different types of prayer: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, and petition. The Ten Commandments are an invaluable resource for entering into that second form of prayer: confession.
I will never forget the first time the Ten Commandments became more to me than mere “words on a stone tablet.” I was attending a church that encouraged the use of a little prayer journal produced by the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer. Within that journal was a section entitled “A Method of Self Examination Using The Ten Commandments.” Beneath each of the Ten Commandments was a list of several items designed to take the reader deeper into the heart of each commandment. Under the first commandment, “Thou shalt have none other gods but me” (a commandment that, up to that point, I felt I had “aced”) was this statement, “Hint: What do I think about when I first awaken each morning?” I read that statement and thought to myself, “Uh-oh! This isn’t going to go well…” I became keenly aware in that moment that there were (and still are) all sorts of things I’d be thinking about when I first awoke each morning, but was God at the top of the list? Ouch. And thus began the adventure of going deeper into the commandments. With this simple resource, the Holy Spirit began to take me deeper into the heart of God and into an ever-growing awareness of my desperate need for him. It’s as if the psalmist wrote Psalm 19:12 to express our need for God’s Commandments to guide us on this journey: “But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.”
Over the years, I have continued to use this little prayer journal and have made it my habit to meditate on one commandment a day, asking the Holy Spirit to reveal those places in my heart that need repentance, healing, and change. I have updated the journal several times, and we provide a copy to each participant of our Foundations class when I teach the session on Bible reading and prayer. If you would like a copy for your own devotions, you can pick one up in the church office. Or, if you’d simply like to print a copy of the section “A Method of Self Examination Using The Ten Commandments,” you can download a copy here:
The second resource for plumbing the depth of the commandments is our new Anglican catechism entitled To Be a Christian. It’s a small book of questions and answers about our faith, and it contains an entire section devoted to the Ten Commandments. I have found it immensely helpful as a resource to lead the reader into a deeper understanding of what the Commandments reveal about the heart of God. The Catechism can be purchased online or in the church office.
In the Upper Room, Jesus said to his disciples,
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17)
May the Spirit of Truth lead you ever-deeper into the heart of God!
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