As you may know, Linda and I meet each Sunday morning to have a conversation with God. Another name for that is – – prayer.. We’ve looked at and tried, a number of different aspects of prayer, how to talk to God and crucially how to listen to God, . What I want to talk about today are prayers which are not really safe prayers. Is there such a thing?
These are not necessarily the easy prayers we’re accustomed to. Most of us prefer the safe prayer route. We often pray – – – God bless us. God help us. God protect us. God do this . . . God do that!
But you know, Those are not bad prayers! They are good prayers, but they are also safe prayers, because for the most part – – – and this is crucial, it allows us to keep our distance from God.
The prayers we’re going to look at this morning, are prayers which will take us out of our comfort zone. They will be prayers where we’re asking God to do more than just keep us safe. They’re intimate prayers, which if we pray them will open ourselves up much more to God.
So, that’s my introduction! Sounds fun! Right? Today, we’re going to look at a prayer David prayed in Psalm 139. David prayed this after his enemies and God’s enemies were on the attack, accusing David of having wrong motives. Instead of fighting and defending himself, David turned to God and said a prayer which could be very dangerous – – he asked God to SEARCH HIS HEART!
We are going to look at the last 2 verses of Psalm 139. David prayed this ~
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my anxious thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! — Psalm 139:23-24
What makes this an unsafe prayer?
To get there I want to break this prayer down by sections. The hope is that when we’re done, you’ll have greater confidence and a desire to come before God – – – intimately and ask Him to search you, as well.
The first thing David prays is ~ 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! You may wonder “why would we ask God to search our heart. He already knows it.”
Actually, we need to understand that without Christ, we don’t have a good heart. We often make this statement about people – – – ‘Oh, they have a good heart.’ Actually, if we want to be truthful, they don’t.
Jeremiah said this ~ 9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? — Jeremiah 17:9
That’s pretty condemning! That explains a lot. It doesn’t give us license to sin, but it helps us to understand our hearts are wicked and incurable. And even with Christ, we still struggle . . . but this prayer may help us to uncover more about ourselves, which is why it’s not so safe.
We easily deceive others and most often, ourselves. For example, and here’s a dangerous question – – – How many of you have told a lie, even since you’ve been a Christian? Raise your hands. Leave them up for a second. Look around. We’re all guilty. None of us are innocent. That’s why we need Christ.
You see, we lie to ourselves. When we’re in the midst of sin, we tell ourselves it’s not so bad. Everyone else is doing it, nobody will know I did it. I can stop after 1 drink, I’m not full of pride, I’m just better than everyone else. I don’t lust, I appreciate God’s creation, I am not materialistic, I just like nice things. I’m not a gossip, I just want to pass on prayer requests.
Above all things the heart is deceitful. So . . . when we pray to God and say,
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! That’s not a safe prayer! It’s actually dangerous. God already knows your heart is not pure. This gives God the opportunity to show you some things about yourself which can bring you into a more intimate relationship with Him. The hope is that the Holy Spirit will transform you more and more into the image of Christ. It’s not safe, but it can make you so much closer to God.
Now David prays, 23 . . . Try me and know my anxious thoughts!
David’s asking God to examine him, test him, try him and while you’re at it God, know my anxious thoughts. How many of us are really willing to say that to God and have Him open us up and really reveal what’s in our heart.
What is it that makes you anxious and afraid? I’m not talking about spiders.
What is it that internally makes you anxious and afraid?
Anxious about your job?
Afraid of not getting married by a certain age?
Afraid of being stuck in a not so good marriage?
Anxious about the future?
Anxious you’re not going to succeed?
Anxious about your health?
Anxious about losing someone?
Why would we say, “God, show me my anxious thoughts?” I think – – – what we fear the most might reveal where we trust God the least. Think about that. What we fear the most reveals where we trust God the least.
If I’m scared to death my marriage isn’t going to work, I’m not trusting God with my marriage. If I’m afraid I can’t pay the bills, I’m not trusting God to be my provider. If I’m afraid I will fail at school or at my job, I’m not trusting God. What you fear the most reveals where you trust God the least.
“God, reveal my fears. Test me God, and show me my anxious thoughts.”
Last year, I prayed that prayer. I had read and read that psalm over and over again…but just the bits I found comfort in. There was a lot going on in my life, and my heart had been broken., and I have to tell you that no sooner than I finished saying those two verses, I was brought to my knees I cried! I was like – – Woah! It really hit me what I was asking God in this prayer. And God was so quick to say, “OK, Sian, here we go!”
It was difficult, it was painful and uncomfortable, it wasn’t safe at all. Maybe it wasn’t wise at that moment, but it was very revealing and startling and that was what I needed. God helped me through a frighteningly He dark time. God opened me up, but didn’t leave me there, He poured Himself into me through His love.
The hope when we say this prayer is God will help us to better understand our hearts and in the process will draw us closer to Him. But we must be willing. This is not one of those prayers where we think we’re playing a game with God, the heart is deceptive, but God knows that . . . yet, God wants to heal that heart.
If you’re serious about growing closer to God, in maturing as a Christian, then I would tell you to pray this prayer. If you want to draw closer to Christ, say this prayer. Ask God to search your heart, to examine and know your anxious thoughts. This will help you better understand yourself and know what God wants from you.
Remember, what you fear the most reveals where you trust God the least, and suddenly, you recognize I’m really not trusting God. And before you’re done, you will better understand your fear.
Maybe you will recognize a sin issue which is holding you back. Something you’ve been able to rationalize to yourself and with others. Maybe it has to do with home life, or work, or with a relationship. Maybe it’s something about church. You’re not attending like you should, you’re not serving, you’re withholding your money. I’m not sure what it is, but God is faithful and He will reveal it to you . . . and He will help you grow.
David now gets into the third part of the prayer – – 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me. Depending on the Bible you use, the message puts it like this — —
See if there is any wicked way in me. See if there is any offensive way in me.
So, you get what David’s asking God? “God, while I’m at it, while I’m being really vulnerable with you, search deeper, and see if there is anything within me that’s offensive or wicked?” How many want to ask that prayer? I told you this is not a safe prayer!!
That type of prayer takes so much courage. It takes so much trust in God. It’s trusting that God really loves me and is not going to shoot a lightning bolt at me because my sin is fully revealed. David’s saying to God to show me anything I am doing that’s displeasing to you. Have you ever noticed it’s really difficult to see our sins? Yet, it’s easy to find everybody else’s.
Have you noticed that? We tend to accuse others, and then we excuse ourselves. Don’t judge me, we say, don’t we, but the Bible says – – judge not lest you be judged.” We really get that one wrong! But that’s for another day.
The heart is deceitful above all things. The most common lies are the ones we tell ourselves. That’s why it takes tremendous courage to say, “Search my heart, God. Test me. Know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me.” This can be one of the most intense and God honouring prayers you ever pray, when you give God permission to point out any sin that’s dwelling within your heart.
Understand, God will point out some things in your life which need to be worked on. God will point some things out you’re trying to deny, things you become defensive about. Don’t deny the truth. Submit yourself to what God is trying to show you, and then have the courage to make the changes you need to make.
The best way to start – – – is by confessing to God – – asking for forgiveness, asking others for forgiveness and seeking God’s healing.
This is why it’s so important to be part of the church. When we go through our struggles, we know God is with us, and we have the community of believers surrounding us in love. Between God and the church family picking us up, we know we will definitely make it.
The church is a place where imperfect people are being transformed by a perfect God, and when we can come to one another and ask for prayer and seek one another’s wisdom, we have the possibility of amazing transformation happening.
Ultimately – – – this should lead to our need for Jesus. I’m reminded of how much I need Jesus and the grace and mercy He offers. God’s grace means I receive what I don’t deserve and mercy is I don’t receive what I do deserve.
We need to learn to depend on Christ. You say – – “I won’t admit it, but I have an addiction issue.” Embrace His power to overcome your addiction. “I’m full of pride.” You need His power to be humbled and depend on Him. “I’ve got a lust issue.” You need His truth to renew your mind, and transform your heart. “I’m materialistic and greedy. I love the things of this world.” You need to fall so in love with Him, that this world is not your home, heaven is your home.
Whatever God shows you, it always points directly to your need for Christ.
Folks – – – This is not a safe prayer. It takes courage to pray it, because when you pray it, God will show you some things about yourself you’re not very proud of, but there’s the power and strength of grace and mercy.
Finally, David ends his prayer with this – – – 24 And lead me in the way everlasting! — Psalm 139:24
When you show me what I don’t like about myself, and show me what needs to be changed – – – – Lord, you lead me, lead me in the way everlasting. God’s way is always the everlasting way! His power, His strength, His courage, His hope, His grace . . . tell me which of those wont endure forever?? His way is the everlasting way!
When you pray this prayer, it will show you your need, and you take that need directly to Christ, and you let Christ meet that need and conform you to His image. It’s dangerous! It’s not safe! But this prayer can transform your life.
Let’s pray – – – Father, we ask that we would be open to the work of your Holy Spirit in our lives, especially in our hearts. Help us to wake up in the morning and say this prayer. To say it when we go to sleep. Help us to draw closer to you. That we would become more intimate with you.
Help us to listen to your response to our prayers. May we be open to who you are calling us to become. Help us to surrender our wills to You so we would call out and be changed, transformed in your image!
And finally, something to ponder:
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.