We aren’t capable of achieving righteousness, but through the saving blood and resurrection of Christ, we have been shrouded in a robe of righteousness that is not our own.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)
Prayer is the most powerful tool for us to use in communicating with our Heavenly Father. What’s more is He has told us, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” (Mathew 7:7) That doesn’t mean we ask God for a Corvette or a mansion and He gives it to us, but it does mean that when we are seeking something within His will and for His glory, it will be given.
Considering we are told those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, I believe we can pray for righteousness and He will indeed draw us to it. But what is righteousness as the Bible defines it?
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What Is True Righteousness According to the Bible?
Righteousness is a quality of God, the very standard of what is right and wrong. In fact, the Greek word for righteousness as used in Matthew 5:6 is diskaiosune. In a broad sense, it means to live in a state approved of by God—a life of integrity, virtue, purity, rightness, correct thinking, feeling, and acting.
Through Scripture—most notably the Ten Commandments, the Jewish Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), and Matthew 22:39—God clearly defines His standard for righteousness. We are to believe and acknowledge there is one God, we should love Him with all our heart, mind, and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
Jesus spoke to the complexities of righteousness when He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28) We may act physically within the confines of God’s law, but it is still possible to commit that sin purely in our hearts.
How Can a Sinner Like Me Be Righteous?
It is a struggle to think, feel, and act correctly. Throw in that we are to put God first in our lives and our neighbors above ourselves, and I am a complete failure. On my best days I wrestle with the desire to do what I want without reference to God and His mandates. On the worst days? I fail miserably. I am incapable of living a righteous life by my own merits.
Do you know what the narrower meaning of diskaiosune was? It was “justice,” or the virtue which gives each his due. I am a sinner. I deserve suffering and death. However, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).
We aren’t capable of achieving righteousness, but through the saving blood and resurrection of Christ, we have been shrouded in a robe of righteousness that is not our own (Isaiah 61:10). When God sees us, He sees Christ. As Christ’s followers, we should daily become better reflections of His righteous character. Verse after verse in the Bible calls us to pursue righteousness. Pursuit is an intentional act. Praise the Lord, He left us the Holy Spirit which guides and helps us in the pursuit. With His help, we can pray for righteousness, study it in His word, and pursue it in our lives.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you…If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7, 11)
May we humbly come before our Lord to ask for His help in pursuing righteousness.
A Prayer for Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
Dear Lord and Holy Father,
There is none righteous but You. You alone can declare what is right and wrong, and Your character is the very standard by which all is judged. By giving us Your Word and the Law, You have illustrated Your perfect character and our inability to come close to matching it. When I studied the Greek word for righteousness, it was made clear how far I am from achieving righteousness on my own. Though I try, I struggle to live a life of rightness and correct thinking, feeling, and acting. I fail to love You with all my heart, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as I love myself.
But You God, You are holy and righteous, perfect in every way. Your Son, my Savior, came into this world from heaven to live the perfect life, be the sacrificial lamb for my sin, and to conquer death. Only by faith and belief in Him am I able to claim His robe of righteousness and enjoy a right relationship with You. It is a free gift that I cannot ever earn. I am not deserving of this mercy and grace. Thank you. Thank you that I am able to receive it by faith, and that my relationship with You can now be personal, like the days when Adam and Eve walked with you in the Garden.
You have chosen me, called me to you, clothed me in Christ’s righteousness and bestowed upon me Your Holy Spirit. Through it, I am able to draw nearer to you, to become a better reflection of Your character, to pursue righteousness. Help me to hunger and thirst for it. Root out any sin which may be hindering my journey in pursuing Your righteousness. Bring it to my attention, help me to reject the sin and combat against falling into the same habits as before.
However, I know I cannot pursue righteousness on my own. I come before you, asking, seeking and knocking. Teach me to walk in Your righteous ways as I study Your word. All Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. Teach me to follow your statutes and keep your ordinances, acting faithfully. Teach me to live a life of rightness and correcting thinking, feeling, and acting. Teach me to love You with all my heart, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. Teach me to hate sin as much as You, and to evict it from my life. I hunger and thirst for Your righteousness—to become a more perfect reflection of Your character.
Thank you that You do not leave me alone on this journey. Thank You for the robe of righteousness given to me through Your son Jesus Christ, and thank You for the Holy Spirit which You use to draw me closer to You.
May my hunger and thirst for righteousness never grow dull or be quenched.
In Jesus’s name I pray,
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Crystal Caudill is a wife, caregiver, mom of teen boys, historical romance author, and prayer warrior. She isn't perfect but she strives to grow in God and encourage others in their faith journeys every day. Learn more about her and her writing at http://www.crystalcaudill.com.
This article is part of our prayer resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.