We find intimacy with our Lord through prayer, and yet for many of us we are unsure how to pray. We worry that we are not saying the right words. We may think that the burden of prayer lies with us. We may not understand how conversational prayer works.
While we do not have time for a full study of prayer here, we will look at a primary principle of prayer: – Come before the Lord with a commitment to honesty –
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” Psalm 51:6
Opening our inner being before the Lord is much of what prayer is about. How can we expect intimacy with God if we are pretending deep within ourselves?
Admitting to our own thoughts and desires in quiet before the Lord, breaks down the barriers between us and him.
We need not worry about having our lives in good order first, for God knows more than us how unholy our inner person is. Our part is to admit and acknowledge all that is not okay.
Jeremiah asked, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (17:9) and the answer is, God knows.
It is therefore best to come before the Lord without pretense.In fact, we find some pretty strong language about how God feels about pretense and hypocrisy.
“I hate all your show and pretense—
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.” Amos 5:21
Pretense and hypocrisy are the difference between our outer lives before the Lord (and others) and our inner hearts. To walk with God we must put aside our pretending and simply come in honesty and truth before the Lord.
King David who wrote many of the Psalms is our master teacher in coming before the Lord in all honesty of heart and mind. Consider this passage,
“O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? how long will my enemy have the upper hand?” Psalm 13:1-2
Haven’t we all wondered at times where God is? Well, David wasn’t afraid to say this to God. He knew that God was big enough for his doubts and his fears and he brought his whole heart to the Lord. He refused pretense (pretending) and chose honesty.
David later gave this advice to his son Solomon,
““And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.” 1 Chronicles 28:9
Every relationship is built on honesty and trust. It is no different with God and us. In fact, God also works at intimacy with his people. In John we find Jesus telling us this very thing,
“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” John 15:15
In fact, in Amos we find this amazing statement,
“Indeed, the Sovereign LORD never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7
God reveals himself to us, and invites us to reveal ourselves to him.
In the midst of our honesty before God, when we take courage to speak what we are thinking and feeling, we come to find the peace of God stealing into our hearts.
David’s cry to God in Psalm 13 concludes this way,
“But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6
And as we read many of the Psalms we find this same progression again and again.
- God I’m really having trouble here
- Where are you?
- Help me!
- I commit to your goodness
- Thank-you for being my God
We start out blaming God and throwing our hurts and accusations before him, and then, once we have spoken our minds we find the Spirit of God softly coming alongside, validating and putting an arm so to speak around our hearts; we know we have been heard.
In fact, we are told,
“the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” Romans 8:26
Not only does God hear our prayers, but he joins in with our prayers and in fact intercedes for us in an even deeper way than what we can do ourselves. Our Holy Spirit advocates on our behalf as we cry out to God.
We become partners with the God-head as we pray. Jesus himself has entered into our struggles and has experienced all of what it is to be human,
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
Amen and amen.
Come to the Lord in the honesty of your heart today. Speak your mind and heart. Welcome dialogue. Listen for what the Spirit is saying to you. Allow validation. Release anger. Accept grace and peace and comfort.
Your life will be infused with greater courage and trust as you go forward with the Lord in this way, day by day. Be blessed.