Be Honest with God

Psalm 60 convinces me that it is permissible for us to express to God whatever is on our heart.

Scripture identifies Psalm 60 as having been written when David “struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.”  Scholars therefore determine that the psalm was written at the time of 2 Samuel 8:1-8.  The author of 2 Samuel 8:6 presents glowing words about David’s successes: “The Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.”  But Psalm 60 begins with David’s genuine gloom and frustration: “O God, you have rejected us, broken our defenses; you have been angry; now restore us!  You have caused the land to quake; you have torn it open; repair the cracks in it, for it is tottering.  You have made your people suffer hard things; you have given us wine to drink that made us reel.”

David does not feel compelled to talk to God with nice spiritual sentences or with glowing expressions of trust.  He simply sets before God the frustrations and fears that are percolating in his heart.  Philip Yancey sees merit in what David does.  He writes, “I am convinced the main requirement in prayer is honesty, approaching God ‘just as we are.’”

In his book Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?, Philip Yancey expands on the importance of honesty in our prayers, and on how he learned this lesson through the psalms: “Psalms keep me honest by furnishing words to prayer I would not pray apart from the their prompting.  I have learned to pray more humanly by reading the psalms and making them my prayers.  As I read psalms of anger and revenge, I have to face the same tendencies in myself.  The psalms expose to the light resentments and wounds long hidden.  I find it liberating that God welcomes, even encourages, me to face into my dark side in my prayers.  I can trust God with my secrets.” (p. 173-174)

Yancey also shares, “A physician friend of mine who learned I was investigating prayer told me I would have to start with three rather large assumptions: (1) God exists; (2) God is capable of hearing our prayers; and (3) God cares about our prayers.  ‘None of these three can be proved or disproved,’ he said.  ‘They must either be believed or disbelieved.’” (p. 79)

If you believe that God exists, that God is capable of hearing our prayers, and that God cares about our prayers—or if you are willing to take the risk of giving these assumptions a try—then go ahead and pour out your heart openly and honestly to God.  I believe he cares deeply about all that is percolating inside of you.

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