Honesty in Prayer

Good morning. It is Tuesday, September 22, 2015. Last day of Summer.

Today’s word of the day, from dictionary.com, is penitent. This adjective means, “feeling or expressing sorrow for sin or wrongdoing and disposed to atonement and amendment; repentant; contrite.”

It was a tough choice, what with it being White Chocolate Day, and Ice Cream Cone Day. I mean, any holiday with “chocolate” in it is definitely worthy of recognition, right? But, September 22 happens to be the shared birthday of Bilbo Baggins and Frodo Baggins. So today is Hobbit Day!

Band practice was fun last night. We played a lot of music. Our director was out of town, so we had a guest director, one of the other Southlake school band directors. I don’t remember his name, but he was also guest directing the first night I was there. We basically just played through about ten pieces, with little rehearsing, as he didn’t know how our regular director would rehearse the parts. In essence, it was a gigantic sight-reading session. These Christmas concerts are going to be fun, for the most part. We are playing some fun pieces.

I’m going to give it another shot at getting to Huddle tonight. The down side tonight is that we are having it at the co-leader’s house, which is a bit farther north than the regular place.

The Red Sox are statistically eliminated from any chance of winning the division, as the Blue Jays won last night. However, they are not in last place today! They are playing a series with Tampa Bay, and the Sox beat them last night, which put the Rays into last place. The elimination for any Wild Card possibilities is 6. The Rangers did not play, but Houston played and won, narrowing the gap between them to one game. It’s gonna be a nail-biter, folks.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Heart Aflame)

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

Psalm 105:1-3

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

The last section of prayer touchstones is, “Where Prayer Takes Us.” The first in this list is, “Self-Knowledge–Prayer Requires and Creates Honesty and Self-Knowledge.”

One thing that has already been pointed out is that we cannot begin true prayer without humility. Oh, sure, you can “pray” without humility. People do every Sunday morning, in church, out loud. But true prayer must include humility, because we cannot truly come before a holy and omniscient God without it. However, prayer must take us even deeper than this. We must go “beyond a mere sense of insufficiency into deep honesty with ourselves.” If you think about it, honesty before God who knows everything (omniscience) is superfluous. But how often do we find ourselves trying to hide behind “prayerful platitudes without taking the time or making the effort to expose to God and ourselves our deepest fears, hurts flaws, and sins.” In essence, when we try to hide these things from God, we wind up deceiving ourselves more than God, who cannot be deceived.

It’s more than just sins that we need to confess, though. We need to “uncover the inward postures, attitudes, perspectives, and inordinate desires that lead us to sins small and large.” The closer we get to this divine beauty, intelligence, and purity, the more we know our own “unsightliness, dullness, and impurity.” This makes us uncomfortable, which is why we try so hard to cover it up.

The bottom line is this: “We cannot truly know God better without coming at the same time to know ourselves better.” This, of course, works both ways. If we deny the truth about ourselves, we will be largely blind to the greatness of God. A great example for us is Isaiah. In Isaiah 6, he receives a vision of God in his temple. His reaction is proper and classic. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” “If we are not open to the recognition of our smallness and sinfulness, we will never take in his greatness and holiness.”

Edmund Clowney, whom Keller has quoted previously, notes that “prayer involves an honesty that has no real parallel in human relationships, because every human relation necessarily involves only a part of your personality. Each of our relationships is different. We have spouses (some of us), friends, strangers we meet in passing . . . all with whom we relate differently. We don’t even reveal our whole selves to our spouses. Yet when we encounter our Father in heaven, “Our masks are gone, pretense is useless: the relationship is not partial, but total. All that we are stand related to our Maker and Redeemer.”

Father, keep me honest before you, in prayer. I confess, I have caught myself spiraling into “prayerful platitudes,” spouting out cliches in prayer that are so often heard in “churchy prayers” on Sundays. May we not seek to impress with our prayers. I have been guilty of that. Yes, trying to pray prayers that would impress people around me with my depth, knowledge, or understanding. It is difficult, this praying in groups out loud. It’s hard to tread that fine line between honesty and openness, and artificial piety. But even in private prayers, it is sometimes difficult to keep from trying to pray in words that I think might impress you. This is silly. There is nothing I can do that will impress you, and it is pointless to try. Instead, teach me to be completely open and honest before you, praying from my heart, revealing the worst and best of my nature before you. You have created me and know everything there is to know about me, so trying to cover any of that up is more detrimental to me. Reveal myself to me.

I pray for this day, that we would have safe travel to and from work. May our work day go smoothly, and give us the ability to display your kingdom today, in all circumstances. May your grace rain down on the rest of our family today, in whatever we find ourselves doing. I pray for your protection, blessing, and provision for all of our family. Give us this day our daily bread.

Come, Lord Jesus.

True prayer leads us to honesty and self-knowledge. Let us not try to cover up our real self before God.

Grace and peace, friends.

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