I have a confession – I struggle sometimes to pray with complete honesty.
I trick myself into thinking that I need to figure out my emotions before I bring them to the Lord. Or that I need to clean myself up before I come into His presence. Deep down, I’m afraid that God’s grace won’t truly extend to my darkest and most honest emotions.
Of course in my head I know that the Lord already knows everything that’s in my heart, but the road from the head to the heart is a long one! I’m afraid that naming my fears, frustrations, disappointments, and wounds in His presence will cause Him to love me less. Oh how often I feel like the weakest Saint crawling toward heaven. I often wrestle with questions such as –
Is it okay to tell God everything inside of me?
Does God really want to know what’s going on in my heart? After all, He has the entire universe to worry about!
When I’ve asked myself these questions, the first place I turn to is the book of Psalms. This is how I know it’s okay to pray with absolute honesty before the Lord, because He gave us hundreds of verses drenched with honest groans. Below is a sampling of some cries from Saints before us.
“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” – Psalm 13:1
“Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.” – Psalm 25:16
“O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me!” – Psalm 71:12
“O God, do not keep silence; do not hold your peace or be still, O God!” – Psalm 83:1
The Psalmists felt sad, abandoned, frustrated, weary and disheartened. If you live long enough, chances are you’ve felt all of these emotions. Life gets exhausting and difficult. Our souls will grow weary and need a place to find rest. Ann Voskamp says that, “feelings are meant to be felt, and then surrendered to God.”
If we dive deeper into the Psalms, we see David understand that our only true place for soul rest and rejuvenation is in the presence of God. Listen into a prayer he penned –
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.” – Psalm 62:5-7
David knew that his only true hope of being completely known, understood, seen, and loved was in God’s presence. Dear one, don’t shy away from feeling what’s in your heart and soul. Even if your heart is filled with difficult emotions, the heart of God is the safest place for our honesty!
Prayer is the most appropriate place for our honest signings and longings. If we truly believe that we have a heavenly Father who unconditionally loves us, why wouldn’t we avail ourselves by bringing our messy, unhindered, unpolished selves before Him.
How Do We Pray With Honesty?
If we’re encouraged to pray honestly, how do we begin?
Journal Your Prayers
Often, I end up writing out my prayers. Writing is therapeutic, and I find that I’m able to slow down, feel my feelings, and then entrust them to the Lord.
It’s easy to get distracted praying silently. Almost as soon as I start praying, I’m thinking of my to-do list, what I want to eat for breakfast, an e-mail I need to respond to, and pretty soon, I’ve gone on a rabbit trail away from praying. Praying out loud is beneficial because it helps us to stay focused. It also makes prayer feel more real. Speaking out loud reminds us that we’re talking to someone.
Pray with People You Trust
Having people in your life who know you, know your walk with the Lord, and are able to cut through any facade you try to put up is imperative!
Read Good Books on Prayer
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World – by Paul Miller is the best book on prayer I’ve read! Highly encourage you to check it out!!