3. Honest Prayers
per — Capturing God’s Heart Volume #25
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 ESV
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?” Jeremiah 17:9 NLT and the answer is, God knows.
It is therefore best to come before the Lord without pretence. In fact, we find some pretty strong language about how God feels about pretence and hypocrisy.
“I hate all your show and pretence —
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.” Amos 5:21 NLT
Pretence 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 NLT
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 pretence (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 NLT
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 NLT
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 NLT
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 NLT
And as we read many of the Psalms we find this same progression again and again.
1. God I’m really having trouble here
2. Where are you?
3. Help me!
4. I commit to your goodness
5. 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 NLT
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 NIV
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.
“God I come to you in the honesty of my heart. I am a little afraid to be honest with you, for I have somehow believed that you want me to be happy all the time. But of course, I am not happy all the time. And so I bring you my troubles, I bring you my worries, I bring you my doubts. I invite you into all of these things. And all of these things I give to you, declaring them for your glory and honour.
Show me in a new way Father, that you are big enough for all the parts of my life. The parts that are working well and the parts that are not working well. Teach me, guide me, heal me, refresh me. Thank you for loving me and for loving my honest prayers. Teach me to become increasingly honest with you and with myself. I desire intimacy in our relationship, I desire to bring you my whole heart. Bless you Lord. Amen”
As we dialogue with God in prayer it is vital to come before him quietly. If we are doing all the talking it is impossible to hear what God may be saying to us. (8) To hear the Holy Spirit requires a heart that is quiet before him. It is good, therefore, to each day take some time to sit in the presence of God and learn to listen to him.
1. Make a plan to be quiet before God for a time each day. It is hard to quiet our hearts before him, but it is a key part of growing in intimate relationship with God.
2. For one month keep a small journal of your times in silence before God. Make note of how you did. Was it easy to be quiet before God or was it hard?
3. You may want to make note of the things that you sense God is saying to you.
4. After a few weeks look back on your notes and see how being silent before God has become easier and more natural.
5. The next time you meet as a class, share how you are growing in silence before God and share what God has been saying to you and how he is leading you.
“God, I come before you in the name and the blood of my Lord Jesus Christ. Today I bring myself quietly before you. I invite you to speak to me. I want to hear from you. To any lying, deceiving, or confusing spirits, I say to these to be quiet in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. I want to hear from God only, I invite your wisdom. Thank you Lord. Amen”
Summary – honest prayers
Our hearts are deceitful. Proverbs 21:2, Jeremiah 17:9
We must be honest before god and others. Ephesians 4:25, Hebrews 4:12
This builds intimacy with God. Matthew 5:8, Proverbs 3:5
We take time each day with God. Psalm 51:10, 1 Timothy 1:5
He woos us and draws us into continued honesty and increased relationship.
2 Corinthians 5:19, 2 Samuel 22:31
8. The Bible warns us against praying as the pagans do. We read in Matthew 6:7-8 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayer are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!” NLT
And in Ecclesiastes 5:1-2, “As you enter the house of God, keep you ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God. Don’t make rash promises, and don’t be hasty in bringing matters before God. After all, God is in heaven, and you are here on earth. So let your words be few.” NLT
The power of prayer is in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and as we agree with God (coming out of agreement with Satan). There is no power in repetition of words and there is no power through the volume of our voice. Shouting will not affect the enemy. In fact, shouting out at the gods is what the pagans do. It is those who practice witchcraft and demonism that shout and make a big show. We do not want our Christian prayer practices to look like pagan prayer practices.
We are called to be different and our prayer practices will reveal what we believe about God. For instance, are we confident that he will heal us? Then we simply say, “In the name of Jesus I command all pain to go right now” and it does. Jesus wants to heal us, we simply release this healing simply yet powerfully. In all things the power of prayer is based on the work and name of Jesus Christ.
“That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil sports with a simple command and he healed all the sick.” Matthew 8:16 NLT