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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Salter Goodwin

Pray Honestly

It was a Bible study on the story of David that opened a door for the most important lesson about prayer I think I have learned. I had come to the sad part about David’s selfish adultery and the lives he destroyed trying to get what he wanted. The prophet Nathan confronts David with a story. When David understands his actions from God’s perspective, he understands with deep grief what he has done in God’s eyes. Poet that he was, he left us a record of his confession. (Psalm 51) One line in that confession changed my prayer life more than anything else.

Surely you desire truth. Psalm 51:6

Nothing pulls us into deep conversation with God better than the truth. Here’s why.

1. Honesty with God requires that I hide nothing from myself.

I must ask myself what need or perspective is pushing my prayer. Sometimes I want something to change because it is too hard or frightening. Sometimes I want God to bring self-disclosure to another person that I am not ready for Him to bring to me. Sometimes I fight the wrong battle on the wrong front or with the wrong weapons. Honesty here sets a pattern for prayer that clears the way for bring His Truth.

2. When I am not honest with myself, I cannot be honest with God.

It’s a dam that needs to be broken. If I don’t understand what God knows is creating the log jam in my prayers, I continue to pray from a place that will not bring God’s answer or mine. Sometimes it is nothing more than a stage of grief: denial. I’m losing something: normal, a relationship, a dream. I don’t even have to accept something new yet. I just declare with all honesty where I am.

3. Since God’s Truth sets me free, I should always welcome His Truth.

Truth will always be my friend, not my enemy. Truth clears the way for something new.

I’ve had to accept difficult truth about what our daughter, Lisa, was facing. I remember one of lowest times of my life, when nothing was going right for her in school. I was on a retreat, walked to a waterfall and screamed my pain that I knew the waterfall would silence. The understanding that turned me around that day was this: all my best efforts would not be enough to give Lisa the life I wanted her to have. I was grieving what I could not do. It was that honesty with myself that gave me permission to stop what wasn’t going to change anything, and let God lead me to what would. I can tell you it didn’t feel like a celebration, but it became an open door.

Honesty, gut-level, no hiding or rationalizing, nothing-but-the-truth honesty. That’s what God wants; that’s what God deserves. To be anything but honest with God is an exercise in futility because He already knows what you don’t acknowledge.

Have an honest talk with God today. Don’t just tell Him what you want, ask Him if what you want is what you need. Go deeper to whatever perspective or emotion or question begs to surface. Then, your time with God is more than asking for things. It is hearing, opening, turning around, and discovering. Something changes and in that change is the raw material for the new God wants to do in you and through you.

How honest can you be with God? Nothing will deepen your intimacy with God like honesty!

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