Today’s blog is the first in a series of three, each of which considers the vital importance of honesty in prayer.
The Bible makes it plain that God wants us to be completely honest in prayer, rather than trying to offer a sanitised, partial, or censored version of ourselves as we think God wants us to be:
You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).
Personally, I find it a relief to share everything with God, including my sins, and the shadow parts of myself I would rather keep hidden, or whose existence I would prefer to ignore or deny. Although sharing all this can be painful, it is vital for my ongoing process of inner healing.
For me, prayer means living in awareness of God’s constant presence, listening, learning, and sharing with God all I experience, feel, think, say and do. This is a relationship in which self-censorship, pretence, concealment and denial are pointless, as God already knows everything about me:
Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely (Psalm 139:4; NIV).
O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (Psalm 139:1; NLT).
I therefore want my communion with God to be constant, spontaneous, immediate, heartfelt, direct and raw. This requires continuous awareness of what is going on in my shadow, as well as in my more “public” face.
Long experience has shown me that when I don’t acknowledge, and deal with, the contents of my shadow, they make their presence felt through unbidden thoughts and impulses, anxiety, dread, panic attacks, depression and bad dreams.
Paying conscious attention to these aspect of myself and exploring their underlying causes helps me to connect with them more fully. This enables me to pray about them, and take action to resolve them. For example, if I remember an unconfessed sin, I can confess it in prayer, then try to make amends by following Jesus’ teaching:
If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:23-4; NIV).
Tomorrow I plan to publish the second part of this series on honest prayer. It will look at Jesus’ shadow, and how he dealt with it. Meanwhile, let’s end with a short reading:
A reading: Psalm 66:16-20; NLT
Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what he did for me. For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke. If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer. Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer or withdraw his unfailing love from me.