Offering a Broken Spirit

What do we have to offer God?

What could we possibly give back to the creator of the universe that he would delight in?

There’s our obedience. Our good behavior. Our time. Our devotion. Our attention. Our adoration. Our repentance. All of these things are beautiful and pleasing to God, but what if we don’t feel there is much left in us to give? Or what if we give insincerely? 

King David wrote Psalm 51 after sleeping with Bathsheba and killing her husband, Uriah. You can bet that the wall his sin had built between him and God felt impenetrable. He begged God to blot out, wash, cleanse, purge, renew, restore and deliver him. From the depths of his broken spirit, he begged for a clean heart and a right spirit.  

David talked about sacrificing the burnt offering of a bull (the best he could give) but recognized that the offering must be given from his heart in true repentance, making it a “right sacrifice.”

For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
- Psalm 51:16-17

More than any other sacrifice we could give, God values “a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart,” an offering we truly mean. It goes back to the story of Cain and Abel, when Abel came to God with an offering out of faith, and Cain came with one out of obligation. Do we surrender or sacrifice things in our lives to God because we want to, or because we feel like we have to?


During Lordship week on my DTS, I laid things down at the foot of the cross, speaking from my mind but not from my heart that I would make Jesus the Lord of my life; saying that I was willing to give him everything and nothing less. Hesitant as I spoke, I thought, do I really mean this?  Am I really willing to give him everything?


We can offer things to God out of obligation or even fear of judgment and not out of remorse or reverence for him. We can say we are serving God but glorify ourselves or get swept away in a wave of self-righteousness. All it leads to is repeated mistakes. All it leads to is a life with God’s name but not with the peace of his presence.

To be more like David, people after God’s own heart, we must truly be people who give God all we have to offer. God is asking for all we have, even if all we have is a broken spirit.

When I’m feeling frustrated with myself or like I have nothing left in me, sometimes all I can pray is “Jesus.” If that’s the only word I can utter, I know that God receives it. My broken spirit is more valuable to him than the empty words I can find myself praying just for the sake of praying. God cares more about the state of our hearts than he does about actions void of faith.


God wants our all, even if our all isn’t much. Yes, God wanted the bull burnt offering from David, he wanted his obedience, but even more he wanted David’s broken spirit; his broken and contrite heart.


So, give what you’ve got. Pray what you’ve got. Unclench your hands. God is not lacking in anything even when you’re lacking in him.