Today’s article is the last in a series of three. It draws together what I have learned so far about honest prayer, including praying about the issues hidden in my shadow-self. If you would like to check out the previous two parts, here is the link to Part 1: https://wp.me/p45bCr-dXu, and for Part 2: https://wp.me/p45bCr-dXD.
Then the Lord said to him, “You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy – full of greed and wickedness!” (Luke 11:39; NLT).
Following Biblical teaching on prayer, I want to:
- Pray about everything (Philippians 4:6; NLT).
- Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).
- Pray simply (Matthew 6:7-13; NLT).
- Pray truthfully (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).
And these are the things I don’t want to do:
- Pray about what I think I should pray about.
- Say what I think God wants to hear.
- Ask for what I think I should ask for.
- Hide whatever is happening in my shadow-self.
My way forward in prayer is to:
- Be completely honest, straightforward and direct with God.
- Confess my sins as soon as I’m aware of them, say sorry to God, then to the person concerned, and work towards reconciliation, if possible.
- Tell God about everything in my shadow-self, especially the issues I would rather hide, ignore, or deny.
Jesus shared everything with God, so I can do the same. For example, I can:
- Ask questions, express doubts, and weep.
- Tell God about my self-pity, shame and regrets.
- Express my frustration, irritation, anger, fear, anguish, grief, dread and despair.
I don’t want to “sanitise” my prayers by concealing my shadow-self. Neither will I say anything which is untrue. For example, I don’t recite prayers about being joyful or loving when these things are not genuinely present in my emotions and behaviour.
Rather, I want to speak the truth in prayer with complete honesty and openness at all times. Nothing I say will ever surprise or shock God, who knows everything about me long before I begin to speak. In fact, he is waiting for me to come to him and to confide in him, just as Jesus confided in him during his time on earth.
The LORD must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).
Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely (Psalm 139:4; NIV).
I know every thought that comes into your minds (Ezekiel 11:5; NLT).
He knows the secrets of every heart (Psalm 44:21; NLT).
I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives (Jeremiah 17:10; ESV).
O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (Psalm 139:1; NLT).
The LORD’s light penetrates the human spirit, exposing every hidden motive (Proverbs 20:27; NLT).
In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).
Confide in him at all times, ye people; pour out your heart before him: God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8; DBY).
As for me, I will confide in thee (Psalm 55:23; DBY).
We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).
The Rosary Hospital