Are you honest with God? Brutally, heart wrenchingly honest? That may sound like an odd question, but I think it’s a necessary one to ask ourselves. I could try to theologically unpack this or give you all of the examples in Scripture when people’s prayers are not all sunshine and rainbows, but that would make this post way too long. Instead, I just want to talk about why I think total honesty and vulnerability is so crucial to our relationship with the Lord.
Over the course of the past year I have realized that I haven’t always practiced complete transparency in my prayer life. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s like when you are praying and ask God for peace because you’re “worried” about something, when in reality you are completely terrified. Or when you tell God that you are really “struggling with Joe,” when an honest prayer would be, “I HATE Joe right now! I need you to give me love for him because I don’t have any.”
I feel like in the trials I have gone through this past year, I have finally learned to be truly honest in my prayers, and I have seen it bring about big changes in my relationship with God. This year my prayers have been more authentic than ever, probably out of desperation, but honest none the less. I have prayed, “God, I freaking HATE _____! Please, please take this hate from me and replace it with love.” I have also prayed, “Lord, I don’t trust you right now. I am so sorry, but i just don’t. I don’t see how your plan is good. Please enable me to trust you.”
Does hearing that scare you? Do you worry I’m about to get struck down by lightning? I used to feel that way too. Then the Lord reminded me of a few things.
First, He can hear our thoughts, so He already knows how we’re feeling. There is nothing any of us could ever say to God that would surprise Him. First John 3:20 says, “… For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” Uh, earth to Jessica! I mean, isn’t that like the second thing we learned in Sunday school as a child, right behind “God made everything?” I’m pretty sure it was. I think, however, we would all agree that the problem is not that we don’t know that truth, rather that we don’t actually apply to our lives. If we did, we would recognize the futility of trying to shield our sin from the Lord.
Secondly, not only does God hear our thoughts and know our minds, but He knows we are not capable of anything good without Him. In Romans 7:18, Paul speaks about the condition of the human heart when he writes, “For nothing good dwells in me, that is in my flesh.” Paul is telling us that at our core, there is nothing good. On our own, we can’t live righteously. Anything good that is in us comes from Christ in us. So, if He knows we can’t do anything good on our own, why would He expect us to come to Him already cleaned up? Why would our prayers be neat and tidy, with a G rating? Jesus says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened.” I don’t know about you, but when I am weary and burdened I tend to either feel like yelling or like crying. It’s not pretty.
Finally, and probably most importantly, if we are not being completely honest with Him, then essentially, we are hiding things; or at least trying to. It may not feel like the intention, but the ramifications are the same. Consider this. Have you ever hid something from a spouse, friend or family member? Do you remember how that felt and how it impacted your relationship? If you’re anything like me, it seriously changes, if not damages, the dynamic. For one, I tend to avoid that person somewhat because I either worry I’m going to slip and be found out, or more commonly, I just feel bad about not being 100% honest. Even when the right thing to do is to keep certain information from someone, I still feel the same way. I also usually keep conversations shallow because I can’t really share everything I’m dealing with. You know when it’s the most awkward? When I know the person probably knows my hidden information, but we don’t talk about it.
Now why in the world would I not expect the same actions to produce the same consequences in my relationship with Christ? Trying to clean up my prayers to make them more palatable actually damages my relationship with Him. I tend to avoid prayer because I know I won’t be “being real,” and when I do pray, it feels somewhat surface because I’m not speaking from my heart. I’m simply saying what my mind thinks my heart should being saying. I’m spinning it.
The fact that I continually ignore common sense in my relationship with Him is both humbling and seriously annoying. We are taught over and over again that the key to all relationships is – say it with me – “open and honest communication.” Our relationship with God is no different. If we want a close relationship, we have to apply the same principles that we use in all of our other relationships, at least the healthy ones. We must get over our religiously-correct terminology and phrasing, and truly share what’s in our hearts – the good, the bad and even the ugly.
For those of you who are angry at God, or aren’t even sure if you believe He is real, don’t let that keep you from praying. Just be honest and tell Him that. He already knows you think it. Ask Him to help you deal with your anger and regrow your trust. Or ask Him for understanding and to reveal Himself to you. I think you will find Him to be faithful to His Word. I know I always have.
What about you? Do you agree or disagree? Is it difficult for you to share your true thoughts and feelings with God? I’d love to hear what you think!
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