Honest Prayer

Did you know it’s impossible to lie to God? He’s omniscient; all-knowing. He knows your thoughts before you speak them. He knows your feelings before you express them. That all-knowing quality makes it incredibly simple to speak honestly with God in prayer.

After delivering a difficult message in Nineveh, Jonah certainly wasn’t afraid to tell God exactly how he felt. Although not in the best manner, Jonah was honest with the Lord about his frustration over the Lord’s merciful response to the people of Nineveh. The Bible records the conversation this way: “This change of plans greatly upset Jonah, and he became very angry. So he complained to the Lord about it: ‘Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.’ The Lord replied, ‘Is it right for you to be angry about this?’ Then Jonah went out to the east side of the city and made a shelter to sit under as he waited to see what would happen to the city” (Jonah 4:1–5, NLT). In other words, Jonah went off and sulked after God corrected him.

Not a pretty sight but too often a familiar one. We all find ourselves in these places of being stretched beyond our ability to understand, and running away seems the best option. In those times, the best option is honest dialogue with our Father. He doesn’t turn His back on us. He engages us in conversation and is never offended by an honest exchange. Instead, He uses it to give us insight, and even direction, to bring about change.

There are other times when honesty with God can look very different. In Luke, a Pharisee asked Jesus to come to his house. While He was there, a woman (gasp … a sinner!) had the nerve to come to Him and not only touch Him but also wash His feet to express her love for Him.

Luke 7 tells us: “When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind him at his feet, weeping. Her tears fell on his feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing his feet and putting perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him. She’s a sinner!’” (Luke 7:37–39, NLT) She, too, was open and honest in her communion with Jesus. She didn’t hold back even though those nearby were criticizing her. Jesus welcomed her honesty and love as she washed His feet.

Jonah came to God in anger, not understanding the direction He wanted him to go. A woman came to Him with open, honest adoration. The Lord honored both— angry prophet and remorseful sinner. To one He gave instruction and guidance; to the other, forgiveness of sin. To both, He gave His understanding, compassion and loving response. God wants you to come to Him for everything. Come to Him with your love, praise, adoration and thanksgiving, but also come to Him with your questions, frustrations, disappointments, doubts and unbelief. He’s big enough for both—just be honest with Him.

There is no pit so deep that the love of God is not deeper still.
~ Corrie Ten Boom

Prayer

Father, I thank You that I can be real with You, that I don’t need to hide behind “religiosity,” but rather I can pour my heart out to You with honesty. You accept me when I come in love and when I come screaming for an answer. Your response is always the same—You love me. Help me to know You as a loving Father who understands my human limitations and is forever standing there with open arms to embrace my hurts, my questions and my love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Activation

  • When you don’t understand a situation or an outcome, don’t be afraid to tell your heavenly Father—then wait for His response.
  • Understand that the Father already knows your deepest thoughts. Sometimes being honest with Him helps lead to you being honest with yourself.
  • Know that there is no condemnation in Christ. During your prayer time, you may be convicted to change something, but you will never be condemned. Therein lies the freedom to be honest.

Memory Verse

O Lord, hear my plea for justice. Listen to my cry for help. Pay attention to my prayer, for it comes from honest lips. Psalm 17:1 (NLT)

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